Thursday, May 31, 2007

[ePalestine] Holding on tight to the frequencies (By Amira Hass)

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m  
Last update - 02:31 31/05/2007  
Holding on tight to the frequencies  
By Amira Hass  

The air is one escape route from the roadblocks and the separation regime that Israel imposes on the Palestinians. But Israel catches up with them even in the air. Israel does not allocate cellular frequencies to the Palestinians that answer their modern technological, economic, social and personal needs. More precisely, Israel refuses to coordinate with the Palestinians so they can use the cellcom frequencies they should have according to the International Telecommunications Union.   

The Communications Ministry claims there is no coordination because we are not speaking to the Hamas government. A convenient excuse, but flawed, because even before the Hamas government arose, Palestinian requests to coordinate additional frequencies went unanswered. The Palestinian cellphone company Jawwal received the frequencies it should have had only in 1999, two years after it was founded. In March this year, Jawwal got a competitor: Al-Wataniya. The Kuwaiti company Wataniya International won the Palestinian Authority tender at the end of 2006. Ownership is to be shared between the international company, the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF) and the public. A professional British management team was appointed, 500 jobs were promised, but no frequencies were allocated.   

The importance of the air is reflected in the following data: Jawwal has about 800,000 subscribers, about 60 percent of the Palestinian cellphone market. Economists estimate that Israeli companies have about a 40-percent share of the market. The approximately 4 million Palestinians have more than 1.3 million cellphones. Some people have two - a Palestinian one and an Israeli one. The Palestinians come in third in the Arab world in the number of people connected to the fast data transmission system ADSL. They are also frequent users of video-conferencing services at their parliament - the Palestinian Legislative Council - at government ministries and at private businesses.   

That is how they overcome the severing of Gaza from the West Bank and the roadblocks between Jenin and Ramallah. Families who live a few dozen kilometers apart and who have not seen each other for five years or more have learned how to make do with phones, Skype, and e-mails. No wonder Paltel (the Palestinian telecoms company, of which Jawwal is a subsidiary) is the most profitable Palestinian firm.   

Dozens of requests for operating permits for Internet and information technology companies lie on the desk of the deputy Palestinian communications minister, Suleiman Zuhairi, who has been working at the ministry since its establishment in 1994. He cannot approve them because of the lack of frequencies.   

The geopolitical reality of the multiplied "borders" between the Palestinian enclaves, on the one hand, and area C (of full Israeli control) and the settlements - which comprise 60 percent of the West Bank - requires maximum coordination between Israel and the PA. As long as Israel does not agree to coordinate the distribution and use of frequencies, it will be impossible to install proper equipment in C areas. That is the reason that even the development of landline infrastructure is limited. No private company will risk installing equipment in C areas lest the Civil Administration's supervisors and the Israel Defense Forces bulldozers pounce on it and destroy it.   

Although the Israeli Communications Ministry denies any connection with this matter, the non-allocation of frequencies to Palestinians serves the Israeli companies that compete with Jawwal on terms favorable to them. (They do not pay taxes to the PA, although the cellular phones are being used in the Palestinian territories.)   

The non-allocation of frequencies is another front in the economic war Israel is waging against the Palestinians. It means a direct loss of income, of jobs, and the blocking of the desire to develop economic niches, which by making use of the air, could overcome the earthen roadblocks and apartheid roads. 


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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

[ePalestine] Another assassination in Ramallah's city center (by Sam Bahour)

Dear friends,

This is an account of my late afternoon today...

International Law. Yeah, right,

P.S.  Several of you asked for my daughter's English Essay in a link format.  It may be found here:


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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

[ePalestine] My Areen & End of the World...

Dear Friends,

The older of my two daughters is Areen.  As many of you know, she goes to the Friends School  in Al-Bireh and is in 7th grade.  Although Areen was born in Youngstown, Ohio, she has lived in Palestine since age 2 and English is her second language.  Her mother tongue is Arabic.  Today, Areen brought home a graded English essay that she had to write in class.  It is attached.  No comment! 

In the days to come you will be receiving a new position paper we have developed in the Campaign ( ) fighting this Israeli policy of silent and sterile ethnic cleansing.  Please keep an eye out for it and act to expose this practice that allows kids to so clearly see the end of the world at 12 years old!  

Home, for now,


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Friday, May 25, 2007

[ePalestine] MJ Rosenberg: Congressional Time Warp (MUST READ FOR AMERICANS)

Washington DC, May 25, 2007 
Issue # 324 

Congressional Time Warp

It is not news to readers of this column that I believe that in recent years the United States Congress has done very little to advance peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. 

On the contrary, Congress has specialized in legislation making it more difficult to provide aid to any and all Palestinians in the name of keeping aid away from terrorists. No matter that our policies have weakened the moderates willing to live in peace with Israel and mightily strengthened Hamas and company. 

Even now when international relief agencies report that Congressional restrictions make it near-impossible to deliver aid to non-Hamas Palestinians because the existing law is so harsh, Congress is looking at ways to tighten it. The name of the game is Arab-bashing which Congress views as a sure crowd – i.e. donor – pleaser. 

The good news is that the Congress that was elected in 2006 seems considerably less interested in playing that game. Speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated that when she resisted pressure and went ahead with her decision to include Damascus on her Middle East itinerary this spring. 

When the White House attacked her for meeting with President Assad, the Congressional leadership -- including, notably, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Tom Lantos – vociferously came to her defense. And Pelosi stuck to her guns, clear evidence that the Tom Delay era, when "The Hammer" used his wide-ranging authority to bang nails into the very idea of Middle East peace, is really over. 

Nevertheless, it is clear that Pelosi has her work cut out for her. Left to its own devices, the House (less so the more deliberative Senate) is still going to look for opportunities to grandstand on Middle East issues, especially in even numbered years but also in the off- years. (The distinction between election and non-election years has pretty much disappeared for House Members whose campaigns are so expensive that they are forced to dial for dollars in both years of their terms). 

The most recent piece of evidence that the old patterns die hard comes in the form of a bill due on the House floor in early June which is designed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War. This is not a significant piece of legislation. When it passes (as it probably will 435-0 or very close to it), nothing will change. 

The wars now raging in the Middle East – in Iraq, between Hamas and Israel and in Lebanon – will still be raging. The occupation of the West Bank, which resulted from the war, will still be in place with all its negative impact on Israelis and Palestinians. Implementing UN Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap, the Saudi plan and the two-state solution will remain as distant as ever. No more and no less. 

In other words, the resolution will pass and its policy implications will be nil. 

But that is precisely what is wrong with resolutions like this. They are purely symbolic. This particular resolution is, with one exception, utterly rhetorical. It congratulates “the citizens of Israel on the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War in which Israel defeated enemies aiming to destroy the Jewish State.” It states the Congressional belief that Jerusalem must remain a “unified city.” It says that United States policy must be that “Jerusalem shall remain the undivided capital of Israel.” 

The only actual policy change contained in the bill is the call on President Bush to "begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem" which, of course, Bush will not do. He won't do it because moving the embassy now would endanger Americans and American interests throughout the Middle East. Nor does Congress really want him to do it. 

As for the language about keeping Jerusalem undivided, it is rhetoric, just rhetoric. No one wants Jerusalem to be divided but it is. East and West Jerusalem are completely separated from each other, with Israel's security barrier only adding concrete to the two-city reality that has deepened every year since 1967. 

Whenever I'm in Israel I visit East Jerusalem and my Israeli friends tell me I'm crazy. "Why would you go there? It's Palestine." And, in fact, I never see Israelis (other than soldiers and journalists) on Salah al Din Street or on Nablus Road. The division is so stark that one hardly sees Israelis (or Jewish tourists) at the American Colony Hotel, one of the two finest hotels in the country. 

This is not to say that the division is anything like the impermeable wall that separated Jordanian and Israeli Jerusalem into two completely distinct cities prior to 1967. During those 19 years no Jew could even set foot in East Jerusalem; even the Western Wall was completely off-limits for Jews. 

But no one, no Israeli and no Palestinian, is proposing that Israeli and Palestinian Jerusalem be separated as they were prior to 1967. No, the idea is that – as both Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton agreed at Camp David – the parts of Jerusalem that are Jewish remain under Israeli sovereignty while the parts that are Muslim or Arab shift to Palestinian sovereignty. One undivided city with shared sovereignty. 

Of course, this resolution ignores the Barak and Clinton proposals just as it ignores the events that are taking place right now. One would never know from reading this resolution that Sderot is under constant rocket attack, that Israel's retaliatory actions are accomplishing less and less, that innocents on both sides are being killed and that Hezbollah is so powerful that its war with Israel last year ended with a draw. In fact, this year’s resolution is virtually identical to the one passed by the House in 1997, as if nothing – absolutely nothing – has changed since then when, in fact, the situation today is infinitely worse for Israelis and Palestinians both. 

This resolution exists in a parallel universe. In this universe, the Six Day War was a great victory for the IDF (which it was), it resulted in the reunification of Jerusalem (which it did, sort of) and the territorial gains Israel made in that war were good for the country (they have been a disaster). Can you imagine the Knesset passing this? Of course not. 

But here, it seems, the Middle East is a game and anyone can play. 

I apologize for making much ado about nothing. The resolution will pass just as a resolution saluting the American farmer or the contribution of the trucking industry would. The only people deeply offended will be those who live in the Arab world and Congress has rarely cared how their actions play in the Middle East – not even with 130,000 American troops over there. 

For Arabs and Muslims in general, the idea of the United States celebrating the Six Day War (and, by inference the occupation it produced) – when we don't even commemorate our own wars except to memorialize the dead – will just be more evidence that the United States is abandoning the role of honest broker. 

Congress has a role to play in the Middle East, especially at a time when the Bush administration's leadership in the region has been sporadic at best. But that leadership is not expressed by resolutions celebrating a war but by using its authority to promote security for Israelis and Palestinians. 

It can start by abandoning its policy of all sticks and no carrots for the Palestinians. Since Hamas came to power, Congress has done little except to tie the hands of our own US government aid agencies and of private charities to prevent any aid from going to Hamas. In the process, we have essentially prevented vital aid from getting to anybody. Salaries aren't being paid. Hospital equipment cannot be replaced. Schools are falling apart. Even our democracy programs have been curtailed. 

Our policy seems to be squeezing the Palestinian people until they cry uncle. That is not going to happen. Instead they do what most people do when being punished by outsiders, they turn to the radicals: Hamas and even those more dangerous than Hamas. 

After all, as bad as Hamas is, as bad as the current situation is, there are far more dangerous forces just waiting to move in if the Palestinian unity government collapses into chaos. 

Al Qaeda is now in Lebanon, just across the border, using the Palestinians to wage war on the government of Lebanon. How far is Lebanon from Israel? (We learned last summer just how close it is). History teaches that when you do not play the hand you have in the Middle East, the next one will be infinitely worse. 

This is what WB Yeats warned about in his greatest poem, “The Second Coming,” composed in 1920. Yeats describes a time much like our own, when “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” A time when “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere.” 

He concludes with the question: "What rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" 

It will take more than pointless Congressional resolutions to confront that beast. 

MJ Rosenberg is the Director of Israel Policy Forum's Washington Policy Center. 


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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

[ePalestine] Romeo & Juliet to modern-day Ramallah (REQUEST FOR SUPPORT)

Dear friends,

As the world crumbles around us, again, efforts on the ground are many to save the sanity of the children that are the real victims of this warmonger world.

Below is a message from an American friend, Doug Hart, who, until recently, use to teach at the school my daughter attends, Friends School (his exit from Palestine was partly due to the threat of Israeli denial of entry into the West Bank).  He is requesting support and I would like to ask if anyone on this list can help.  If needed, he advises there is a Michigan 501c3 nonprofit that is willing to take the contributions, purchase the software, and then give it back to the kids. 

If you can help, please contact me or Doug Hart directly at .

Trying to bring normalcy to a generation,

------- Forwarded message follows -------

To: (Sam Bahour)
Subject:            to Sam Bahour from Doug Hart
Date sent:         Mon, 14 May 2007 15:39:38 +0000


Hope you're well! 

I wonder if you might be willing to contribute some money to a youth film project in Ramallah. 

As you know, I am no longer teaching at [Friends Boys School] FBS. Still, I find myself continuing to work with my former students, trying to help them complete projects we initiated together. My goal is to make sure these projects achieve success. 

The specific project I am writing to you about -- a student docudrama on Romeo & Juliet -- was birthed in January 2006 at a meeting between me and almost a dozen of my gifted 10th grade students. These kids appreciated Shakespeare and loved the Romeo & Juliet play; they also had an interest putting together a student-film.  

And so, these ambitious students initiated what would prove to be a rather lengthy process of putting together a DVD production contextualizing the story of Romeo & Juliet to modern-day Ramallah (while still relying on the original play script and Old English). They determined early on to loosely pattern their script after Al Pacino's "Looking for Richard" (a docudrama on Shakespeare's Richard the 3rd). 

Since that time 14 months ago, my students have invested hundreds of hours into turning their docudrama into a reality. Now, almost all of their pre-production work is done. 

Here's a brief history of what has been accomplished: 

First, last school year, each of my 11 participating students (known as the R & J team) became thoroughly versed in the Romeo & Juliet story as well as low-budget filmmaking. Each of them read books on student digital filmmaking, completed extensive worksheets on characters and the plotline, and, finally, at the close of last school year, memorized what happened in every single scene of the entire play. On top of all of this, they met regularly after-school last year, discussing the play and its themes, and how it might all flesh out in Ramallah. 

Second, after 6 months of hard work, the script is complete. Scriptwriting began in earnest in June of last year and concluded in December. Two of my most able students served as scriptwriters. I worked with them after school hours, almost weekly, to complete their task. In my opinion, their polished script is perceptive, creative, and based on a good understanding of the play. 

Third, over the past several months, a cast has been assembled, storyboards have been developed, and logistics for filming have become the priority. 

Fourth, all of the filming equipment for shooting has been procured. My students have boom and wireless lapel mics, tripods, and two prosumer HD Sony camcorders. Also, a lighting apparatus is evidently being made available by Reuters News Service in the West Bank. 

Okay, now let me share where we're presently at with all of this: 

The R & J team has scheduled the shooting of their docudrama for June, immediately following final school exams. They have asked me to come and help them. Basically, my job will be to provide moral support, help put out occasional fires, and maintain discipline. I plan to be with them from June 10 through 17. 

Now, the point of my note: 

Once the filming is completed in June, my students want to immediately begin their post- production work (editing, music embedding, and graphics). Their goal is to complete the final phase of this project by the end of August. After that, they intend to shop their production to film festivals around the world, beginning in late fall of this year. 

In addition to this, a friend of mine in Grand Rapids - where I live - has committed to premiering this student film in one his movie theaters. Local secondary Drama, Film, English, and Global Studies teachers will be invited to attend. Of course, this is contingent upon the production being good enough. Of course, the first premier will need to occur in Ramallah (probably goes w/o saying). 

Okay, here's the challenge: 

My kids do not have the editing software they need to successfully execute the post- production phase. 

Happily, two students attended film camp last summer and learned how to use Apple's Final Cut Pro movie-editing software. Understandably, they are requesting Final Cut Pro software to use for their post-production work. 

I want to supply them with this because they need it to complete their work. My difficulty is that I do not feel financially healthy enough to cover it. I will, however, be bringing an Apple laptop for the kids when I come in June. 

And so my request: Would you consider underwriting the Final Cut Pro editing software? The total cost would be $1,299. See more details at the bottom of my note. I did a little cut and paste from the Apple website.  

My apologies for making this note so long. I just felt you might need a more detailed elaboration on the project before receiving my request for support. 

As you know, I am back in West Michigan now, and would be more than happy to talk to you via phone about this. Of course, you can reach me by email as well. 

Thanks for your indulgence, Sam! 


Final Cut Studio 2 
Final Cut Studio 2 is the must-have upgrade to Apple's award-winning video and audio production suite. With six powerful applications, each designed specifically for editors, Final Cut Studio 2 puts everything you need in a single box: 

- Final Cut Pro 6 for video and film editing 

- Motion 3 for graphics and animation in 3D 

- Soundtrack Pro 2 for professional audio post-production 

- Color, a new application for professional color grading and finishing 

- Compressor 3 and DVD Studio Pro 4 for digital delivery virtually anywhere -- a disc, the web, Apple TV, iPod, or cell phone 

------- End of forwarded message -------


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Saturday, May 19, 2007

[ePalestine] Open letter to the Rolling Stones regarding planned gig in Israel

Dear All, 

The following letter is addressed to the Rolling Stones who are planning a concert in Israel. At this point we are soliciting endorsements from artists, cultural figures, intellectuals and cultural organizations, and others who wish to lend their support. 

Please send endorsements to , with your name/name of organization, city and country. 

Boycott Israel – Don’t Play another “Sun City”! 

An open letter to the Rolling Stones regarding their planned gig in Israel 

18 May 2007 

Dear Rolling Stones, 

The Palestinian arts community received in disbelief media reports of your upcoming performance in Israel, at a time when Israel continues unabated with its colonial and apartheid designs to further dispossess, oppress, and ultimately ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their homeland. If the news is accurate, we strongly urge you to cancel your plans to perform in Israel until the time comes when it ends its illegal occupation of Palestinian territory and respects fundamental human rights as well as the relevant precepts of international law concerning Palestinian rights to freedom, self-determination and equality. 

Performing in Israel at this time is morally equivalent to performing in South Africa during the apartheid era. We all remember how leading Rolling Stones musicians played a prominent role in enforcing a cultural boycott of apartheid South Africa in the 1980’s, and participated in recording the timeless song, Sun City, which had a singular influence on raising public awareness about apartheid and its injustices. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights Prof. John Dugard, and South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils have repeatedly declared, Israel has created a worse system of apartheid than anything that ever existed in South Africa. 

Indeed, Israel’s policies throughout its illegal military occupation of Palestinian territory, which have surpassed their South African counterparts, include house demolitions; Jews-only colonies and roads; uprooting hundreds of thousands of trees; indiscriminate killings of civilians, particularly children; incessant theft of land and water resources; denying freedom of movement to millions under occupation, cutting up the occupied Palestinian territory into Bantustans, some entirely caged by walls, fences and hundreds of roadblocks. Sixty years since the Nakba, Israel’s planned campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people, and 40 years into its military occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territory, Israel has consistently and relentlessly violated basic human rights and relevant precepts of international law with utter impunity. Moreover, Israel’s war of aggression against Lebanon last year caused more than one thousand civilian deaths, not to mention massive destruction to infrastructure and decimation of entire residential neighbourhoods. 

The resounding failure of the international community to date in ending Israel’s occupation, collective punishment, and other forms of oppression was what prompted Palestinians to appeal to international civil society to bear its moral responsibility to put an end to injustice, just as it did against apartheid South Africa. To this end, Palestinian civil society has almost unanimously called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it fully complies with international law and recognizes the fundamental human rights of the people of Palestine. A specific call for cultural boycott of Israel was issued last year, garnering wide support. Among the many groups and institutions that have heeded the Palestinian boycott calls and started to consider or apply diverse forms of effective pressure on Israel are the Church of England; the US Presbyterian Church; a group of top British architects; the British National Union of Journalists in the UK; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU); the South African Council of Churches; the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Ontario; Aosdana, the Irish state-sponsored academy of artists; celebrated authors, artists and intellectuals led by John Berger; and Palme d’Or winner director Ken Loach. Is it too much, then, to expect conscientious artists like the Rolling Stones to similarly uphold the values of freedom, equality and justice for all by supporting the growing boycott against Israel? 

We appeal to your moral principles and your record of standing up for human rights and human dignity. We sincerely hope that you shall cancel this ill-conceived and particularly harmful concert in Israel. 


The Undersigned:  

------------------------------------------------------------------------- -------- 

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel


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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

[ePalestine] NYT: Red Cross Report Says Israel Disregards Humanitarian Law

New York Times

May 15, 2007 
Red Cross Report Says Israel Disregards Humanitarian Law 

JERUSALEM, May 14 — The International Committee of the Red Cross, in a confidential report about East Jerusalem and its surrounding areas, accuses Israel of a “general disregard” for “its obligations under international humanitarian law — and the law of occupation in particular.” 

The committee, which does not accept Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, says Israel is using its rights as an occupying power under international law “in order to further its own interests or those of its own population to the detriment of the population of the occupied territory.” 

With the construction of the separation barrier, the establishment of an outer ring of Jewish settlements beyond the expanded municipal boundaries and the creation of a dense road network linking the different Israeli neighborhoods and settlements in and outside Jerusalem, the report says, Israel is “reshaping the development of the Jerusalem metropolitan area” with “far-reaching humanitarian consequences.” Those include the increasing isolation of Palestinians living in Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and the increasing difficulty for some Palestinians to easily reach Jerusalem’s schools and hospitals. 

The Red Cross committee, which is recognized as a guardian of humanitarian law under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, does not publish its reports but provides them in confidence to the parties involved and to a small number of countries. This report was provided to The New York Times by someone outside the organization who wanted the report’s conclusions publicized. The leak came just days before Israel’s celebration of Jerusalem Day this Wednesday, observing the 40th anniversary of the unification of the city. 

The committee is better known for its role in visiting prisoners all over the world to try to ensure humanitarian conditions. It has been involved for decades with the Israeli-Palestinian situation as part of its role in upholding the Geneva Conventions, which cover the responsibilities of occupying countries. But its reports rarely surface. 

The report considers all land that Israel conquered in the 1967 war to be occupied territory. It was the result of nine months of work by the committee and was delivered in late February “to Israel and to a small number of foreign governments we believe would be in the best position to help support our efforts for the implementation of humanitarian law,” said Bernard Barrett, a spokesman for the committee in Jerusalem. 

Israeli officials said that they respected the committee and that they had cooperated with it gladly on issues ranging from the release of captured Israeli soldiers to asking its officials to give briefings on international law to Israeli diplomats and commanders serving in the occupied West Bank. 

They confirmed having received the report, but disagreed with its premises and conclusions. 

“We reject the premise of the report, that East Jerusalem is occupied territory,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “It is not. Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967 and offered full citizenship at the time to all of Jerusalem’s residents. These are facts that cannot be ignored.” 

Israel, he said, “is committed to a diverse and pluralistic Jerusalem, to improving the conditions of all the city’s inhabitants and to protecting their interests as part of our sovereign responsibility.” He added, “If any population in Jerusalem is thriving and growing, it is the Arab population.” 

He also noted that Israel made great efforts to ensure health care for Palestinians, pointing to 81,000 entry permits in 2006 for Palestinians needing care inside Israel. 

Conditions have worsened for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which has long had inferior services. 

Security restrictions and the barrier that runs around and through parts of East Jerusalem were Israel’s response to suicide bombings after 2000, but they made it much more difficult for Palestinians to move into and out of Jerusalem. 

It is virtually impossible for Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza to move to Jerusalem if they were not born in the city; even visiting requires a permit that can be hard to get. Natural population growth and building restrictions in Arab parts of the city means that large families often share very small apartments. 

Palestinians argue that the building restrictions are meant to suppress the growth of the their community; the Israelis counter that zoning restrictions are imposed throughout the city. 

The Red Cross report notes that the separation barrier “was undertaken with an undeniable security aim,” but adds, “The route of the West Bank barrier is also following a demographic logic, enclosing the settlement blocs around the city while excluding built-up Palestinian areas (thus creating isolated Palestinian enclaves).” 

Mustafa Barghouti, spokesman for the Palestinian unity government, welcomed the report, calling it consistent with the rulings of the International Court of Justice, which said in a nonbinding opinion in 2004 that Israel’s security barrier was illegal where it crossed the 1967 lines into occupied territory. “Israel violates international law with impunity, and couldn’t continue this blunt violation for 40 years if it did not feel impunity toward the international community,” Mr. Barghouti said. 


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Saturday, May 12, 2007

[ePalestine] Crossing The Line: Life in Occupied Palestine: Ilan Pappe & Sam Bahour

Crossing The Line: Life in Occupied Palestine 
A weekly podcast giving voice to the voiceless in occupied Palestine and the Gaza Strip. 

Fri, 11 May 2007 

Taming The Beast: Ilan Pappe Defends A One State Solution 

This week on Crossing The Line, the ongoing debate of two states vs. one state in Israel/Palestine is nothing new. However, the debate looms larger when we talk about the issue solely in the peace movement. Today I'll present part one of a two-part conversation with noted Israeli historian Ilan Pappe. 

Also this week, as Israeli incursions onto occupied lands begin to increase, we'll find out what the true facts are on the ground from our good friend and colleague Sam Bahour in el-Bireh. 

Then later in the podcast our weekly commentary by Mumia abu-Jamal and The War's Toll compiled and read by Scott Burgwin of the Stand Independent News Service. 

Direct download: Pappe_Bahour_Podcast.mp3  

Category: podcasts -- posted at: 11:42 AM 


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[ePalestine] NYT: Invisible Palestinians Exist in Legal Limbo in Lebanon

New York Times

May 6, 2007 
Invisible Palestinians Exist in Legal Limbo in Lebanon 

BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 5 — Three generations of the Hamdallah family have lived in Lebanon. And for three generations not a single member of the family has been allowed to graduate from school, legally marry, or hold a job, or even set foot outside of the rundown camps that have been home to generations of Palestinians. 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimates that more than 400,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon — refugees, their children and their children’s children — all denied many basic rights in their adopted homeland on the Mediterranean. 

But within that diaspora at least 3,000 people, including the Hamdallah family, are invisible to the legal system, aid groups here say. When their families arrived in Lebanon, they failed to get refugee status, and without it they cannot get identification cards, the currency of all life transactions in this region. Marriage, travel, work — all are impossible without a national identification document. 

“They are not persons in front of the law,” said Stéphane Jacquemet, regional representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon. “They live in camps, don’t have access to services, schools, hospitals, and strictly speaking a person with no documents can be arrested. They absolutely have no future, and they are giving their no future to their children.” 

Palestinian refugees have been denied citizenship in Lebanon for years, and they are prohibited from practicing more than 70 professions. The Lebanese government has insisted that the plight of the refugees should not be settled at the expense of host nations, and it has made clear that it eventually wants the Palestinians to go back to Israel after a settlement with that government. 

At the heart of that policy lies the fear that the refugees could upset Lebanon’s already complicated and tenuous power-sharing system, based on ethnic and sectarian affiliation. Because most Palestinians are Sunni Muslims, nationalizing them would throw the power balance to Sunnis. 

So, with no real hope of becoming Lebanese citizens, Palestinians remain squeezed in dark, small camps where sewage water often runs in claustrophobic alleys, the only playground of young refugees. Outside most of these camps, the Lebanese Army maintains a heavy presence. 

But while most Palestinians are denied citizenship, a vast majority have identification papers that allow them to participate in society. 

“Generally speaking, everyone must have and is entitled to a legal identification paper,” said Fateh Azzam, a regional representative of the International Council on Human Rights here. “In this part of the world you can’t do anything without it.” 

That is a reality that the Hamdallah family has struggled with for generations. 

Born in Jerusalem, the oldest member of the family, Moetaz Hamdallah, 65, came to Lebanon in 1970 from Jordan after “Black September,” when King Hussein expelled Palestinian militants. Mr. Hamdallah was one of those militants. He arrived in Lebanon when the Palestine Liberation Organization — then ensconced in southern Lebanon — was at the height of its power, and so he never thought about legalizing his status. 

“The revolution was strong, I was strong,” Mr. Hamdallah said in an interview. “I never thought about identification papers or what would happen to me and to my children without them.” 

But when the P.L.O. was driven out of Lebanon in 1982, “I started pitying myself,” he said as he sat on a plastic chair outside his concrete-block house in the Rashidieh refugee camp in southern Lebanon. Inside, flies buzzed under a zinc roof and unpainted walls. 

Mr. Hamdallah did not flee when Israel was formed over the former Palestine in 1948, and so he and his family did not meet the United Nations definition of Palestinian refugees. In Lebanon, the P.L.O. was blamed for igniting civil war, and so Mr. Hamdallah, like others with his background, were not welcomed. 

Their situation came to light in 2001 when a young refugee without proper identification was fatally shot in the back by Lebanese soldiers after he ran from a security checkpoint monitoring his refugee camp. When investigating why he ran back toward the camp, the army found out that he had a forged ID card and feared arrest. 

“They have melted into the background for too long,” said Richard J. Cook, director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. “This is a problem not going to go away on its own; now is the time to solve it.” 

But obstacles complicate the more direct possible solutions, human rights advocates say. For example, Jordan and Egypt have refused to renew the passports of the Palestinians who used to live there before their move to Lebanon. Refugees cannot transfer their files with the United Nations to Lebanon from their previous resident countries unless they have the approval of those countries and Lebanon. 

One of the solutions would be for the Lebanese government to provide Palestinians with some sort of documents that recognize them as a special category of refugees entitled to remain in the country until the issue of the so-called right to return to Israel is settled. But the government said that a lack of a thorough and well-documented survey about them prevents that for now. 

“They are illegal in the country, so they are not going to raise their hands up and say, ‘We are illegal, can you help us?’ ” Mr. Cook said. 

The Danish Refugee Council, a nongovernmental organization funded by the European Union Commission Humanitarian Aid Department, put the number of undocumented Palestinians in Lebanon at 3,000, while other nongovernmental organizations put it at as high as 5,000. 

Some human rights advocates insist that the real problem is not a lack of clear statistics, but the government’s objection to any measure that would raise the official number of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. 

That charge is denied by Khalil Makkawi, a former Lebanese ambassador to the United Nations who now leads the committee negotiating with the Palestinians on how to regulate their presence here. 

“It has no foundation whatsoever,” Mr. Makkawi said. “It is in our interest to solve the problem and identify them as Palestinians.” 

When the government gets clear figures from the P.L.O. office here, it can start talks with Jordan and Egypt to renew refugees’ old identification papers and to transfer the files of those registered with the United Nations elsewhere to Lebanon, he said. As for those who lack papers and have never been registered anywhere, the government will seek a special solution, he said. 

When Mr. Hamdallah’s oldest son, Mohannad, 34, was a child, he asked his father why he did not have an identification paper like his fellow classmates. He was told that he would get papers when they returned home — meaning Jerusalem, he said. 

Recently, when Mohannad Hamdallah was asked how he would respond if his 7-year old daughter, the oldest of a third generation of refugees in his family without identification, someday asks him why she cannot graduate from school, he thought for a moment before answering. 

“I would tell her they were burned during the war,” he said. 

Desperate for some form of legal identity, he has throughout his life collected hundreds of papers with his name, place and year of birth written on them from local mayors, hospitals and schools where he studied but never graduated. 

He keeps the papers, their edges worn from use, in a briefcase, and the briefcase in a safe. “I keep every piece of paper because I am like the drowning man who clutches at a straw,” he said. Still, at one military checkpoint, they evoked only mockery, then detention, he said. 

He looks for work as a freelance accountant, but can only keep a job until his employer asks for legal identification. 

“When they do, I disappear,” he said. “I can’t tell them I don’t have an ID. They won’t understand.” 

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company 

PHOTO: Mohannad Hamdallah, left, his children and brother Talib at home in one of the Lebanese camps where three generations of the family have lived. (Paul Taggart/World Picture Network, for The New York Times) 


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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

[ePalestine] World Bank: Access to more than 50% of West Bank restricted for Palestinians

Access to more than 50 percent of West Bank restricted for Palestinians: World Bank 
The Associated Press 
Tuesday, May 8, 2007 

RAMALLAH, West Bank: A new World Bank report says the troubled Palestinian economy cannot recover unless Israel dismantles its web of physical and administrative obstacles to Palestinian movement in the West Bank. Here are some figures from the report. 


Since Israel signed an agreement on improving movement and access for Palestinians in November 2005, restrictions have instead become tighter. Since the agreement, the number of physical obstacles in the West Bank increased by 44 percent, to 547. 


Israel's permit system can be used to control the movement of Palestinian residents outside their immediate municipal area and to restrict access to more than 50 percent of the West Bank. In compiling that figure, the bank considered the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a single unit, in line with the international community's refusal to accept Israel's annexation of the eastern sector of the city. 


Physical and administrative obstacles have divided the West Bank into 10 enclaves, and Palestinians have to move through checkpoints to get from one to the other. 


About 250,000 Israelis live in 121 settlements in the West Bank, or roughly twice as many as the 126,900 who were present in the area at the time of 1994 interim peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians. Between 2001 and 2005, the settler population grew by 5.5 percent a year, while the population within Israel grew by 1.8 percent a year. 


Built-up areas of Jewish settlements cover about 3 percent, and the settlements' municipal boundaries an additional six percent. The settlements' areas of "regional jurisdiction" are larger than the boundaries, and include agricultural and industrial areas and space for further expansion. 


The Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now, citing official government figures, estimates that nearly one-third of land included in settlement jurisdictions is privately owned by Palestinians. 


Israel's separation barrier slices off 8.5 percent of the West Bank. That area, declared "closed" by Israel and falling under a strict permit regime, is home to some 50,000 Palestinians in 38 villages and towns. 


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