Friday, September 28, 2007

[ePalestine] Ha'aretz: Gideon Levy:The children of 5767 (A DIFFICULT BUT MUST READ)

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 12:46 28/09/2007

Twilight Zone / 
The children of 5767

By Gideon Levy

It was a pretty quiet year, relatively speaking. Only 457 Palestinians and 10 Israelis were killed, according to the B'Tselem human rights organization, including the victims of Qassam rockets. Fewer casualties than in many previous years. However, it was still a terrible year: 92 Palestinian children were killed (fortunately, not a single Israeli child was killed by Palestinians, despite the Qassams). One-fifth of the Palestinians killed were children and teens - a disproportionate, almost unprecedented number. The Jewish year of 5767. Almost 100 children, who were alive and playing last New Year, didn't survive to see this one. 

One year. Close to 8,000 kilometers were covered in the newspaper's small, armored Rover - not including the hundreds of kilometers in the old yellow Mercedes taxi belonging to Munir and Sa'id, our dedicated drivers in Gaza. This is how we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the occupation. No one can argue anymore that it's only a temporary, passing phenomenon. Israel is the occupation. The occupation is Israel. 

We set out each week in the footsteps of the fighters, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, trying to document the deeds of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Border Police officers, Shin Bet security service investigators and Civil Administration personnel - the mighty occupation army that leaves behind in its wake horrific killing and destruction, this year as every year, for four decades. 

And this was the year of the children that were killed. We didn't get to all of their homes, only to some; homes of bereavement where parents weep bitterly over their children, who were climbing a fig tree in the yard, or sitting on a bench in the street, or preparing for an exam, or on their way home from school, or sleeping peacefully in the false security of their homes. 

A few of them also threw a rock at an armored vehicle or touched a forbidden fence. All came under live fire, some of which was deliberately aimed at them, cutting them down in their youth. From Mohammed (al-Zakh) to Mahmoud (al-Qarinawi), from the boy who was buried twice in Gaza to the boy who was buried in Israel. These are the stories of the children of 5767. 

The first of them was buried twice. Abdullah al-Zakh identified half of the body of his son Mahmoud, in the morgue refrigerator of Shifa Hospital in Gaza, by the boy's belt and the socks on his feet. This was shortly before last Rosh Hashanah. The next day, when the Israel Defense Forces "successfully" completed Operation Locked Kindergarten, as it was called, leaving behind 22 dead and a razed neighborhood, and left Sajiyeh in Gaza, the bereaved father found the remaining parts of the body and brought them for a belated burial. 

Mahmoud was 14 when he died. He was killed three days before the start of the school year. Thus we ushered in Rosh Hashanah 5767. In Shifa we saw children whose legs were amputated, who were paralyzed or on respirators. Families were killed in their sleep, or while riding on donkeys, or working in the fields. Operation Locked Kindergarten and Operation Summer Rains. Remember? Five children were killed in the first operation, with the dreadful name. For a week, the people of Sajiyeh lived in fear the likes of which Sderot residents have never experienced - not to belittle their anxiety, that is. 

The day after Rosh Hashanah we traveled to Rafah. Dam Hamad, 14, had been killed in her sleep, in her mother's arms, by an Israeli rocket strike that sent a concrete pillar crashing down on her head. She was the only daughter of her paralyzed mother, her whole world. In the family's impoverished home in the Brazil neighborhood, at the edge of Rafah, we met the mother who lay in a heap in bed; everything she had in the world was gone. Outside, I remarked to the reporter from French television who accompanied me that this was one of those moments when I felt ashamed to be an Israeli. The next day he called and said: "They didn't broadcast what you said, for fear of the Jewish viewers in France." 

Soon afterward we went back to Jerusalem to visit Maria Aman, the amazing little girl from Gaza, who lost nearly everyone in her life to a missile strike gone awry that wiped out her innocent family, including her mother, while riding in their car. Her devoted father Hamdi remains by her side. For a year and a half, she has been cared for at the wonderful Alyn Hospital, where she has learned to feed a parrot with her mouth and to operate her wheelchair using her chin. All the rest of her limbs are paralyzed. She is connected day and night to a respirator. Still, she is a cheerful and neatly groomed child whose father fears the day they might be sent back to Gaza. 

For now, they remain in Israel. Many Israelis have devoted themselves to Maria and come to visit her regularly. A few weeks ago, broadcast journalist Leah Lior took her in her car to see the sea in Tel Aviv. It was a Saturday night, and the area was crowded with people out for a good time, but the girl in the wheelchair attracted attention. Some people recognized her and stopped to say hello and wish her well. Who knows? Maybe the pilot who fired the missile at her car happened to be passing by, too. 

Not everyone has been fortunate enough to receive the treatment that Maria has had. In mid- November, a few days after the bombardment of Beit Hanoun - remember that? - we arrived in the battered and bleeding town: 22 killed in a moment, 11 shells dropped on a densely packed town. Islam, 14, sat there dressed in black, grieving for her eight relatives that had been killed, including her mother and grandmother. Those disabled by this bombardment didn't get to go to Alyn. 

Two days before the shelling of Beit Hanoun, our forces also fired a missile that hit the minibus transporting children to the Indira Gandhi kindergarten in Beit Lahia. Two kids, passersby, were killed on the spot. The teacher, Najwa Khalif, died a few days later. She was wounded in clear view of her 20 small pupils, who were sitting in the minibus. After her death, the children drew a picture: a row of children lying bleeding, their teacher in the front, and an Israeli plane bombing them. At the Indira Gandhi kindergarten, we had to bid good-bye to Gaza, too: Since then, we haven't been able to cross into the Strip. 

But the children have come to us. In November, 31 children were killed in Gaza. One of them, Ayman al-Mahdi, died in Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where he had been rushed in grave condition. Only his uncle was permitted to stay with him during his final days. A fifth-grader, Ayman had been sitting with friends on a bench on a street in Jabalya, right by his school. A bullet fired from a tank struck him. He was just 10 years old. 

IDF troops killed children in the West Bank, too. Jamil Jabaji, a boy who tended horses in the new Askar refugee camp, was shot in the head. He was 14 when he was killed, last December. He and his friends were throwing rocks at the armored vehicle that passed by the camp, located near Nablus. The driver provoked the children, slowing down and speeding up, slowing down and speeding up, until finally a soldier got out, aimed at the boy's head and fired. Jamil's horses were left in their stable, and his family was left to mourn. 

And what did 16-year-old Taha al-Jawi do to get himself killed? The IDF claimed that he tried to sabotage the barbed-wire fence surrounding the abandoned Atarot airport; his friends said he was just playing soccer and had gone to chase after the ball. Whatever the circumstances, the response from the soldiers was quick and decisive: a bullet in the leg that caused him to bleed to death, lying in a muddy ditch by the side of the road. Not a word of regret, not a word of condemnation from the IDF spokesman, when we asked for a comment. Live fire directed at unarmed children who weren't endangering anyone, with no prior warning. 

Abir Aramin was even younger; she was just 11. The daughter of an activist in the Combatants for Peace organization, in January she left her school in Anata and was on the way to buy candy in a little shop. She was fired upon from a Border Police vehicle. Bassam, her father, told us back then with bloodshot eyes and in a strangled voice: "I told myself that I don't want to take revenge. Revenge will be for this 'hero,' who was so 'threatened' by my daughter that he shot and killed her, to stand trial for it." But just a few days ago the authorities announced that the case was being closed: The Border Police apparently acted appropriately. 

"I'm not going to exploit my daughter's blood for political purposes. This is a human outcry. I'm not going to lose my mind just because I lost my heart," the grieving father, who has many Israeli friends, also told us. 

In Nablus, we documented the use of children as human shields - the use of the so-called "neighbor procedure" - involving an 11-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old boy. So what if the High Court of Justice has outlawed it? We also recorded the story of the death of baby Khaled, whose parents, Sana and Daoud Fakih, tried to rush him to the hospital in the middle of the night, a time when Palestinian babies apparently mustn't get sick: The baby died at the checkpoint. 

In Kafr al-Shuhada (the "martyrs' village") south of Jenin, in March, 15-year-old Ahmed Asasa was fleeing from soldiers who had entered the village. A sniper's bullet caught him in the neck. 

Bushra Bargis hadn't even left her home. In late April she was studying for a big test, notebooks in hand, pacing around her room in the Jenin refugee camp in the early evening, when a sniper shot her in the forehead from quite far away. Her bloodstained notebooks bore witness to her final moments. 

And what about the unborn babies? They weren't safe either. A bullet in the back of Maha Qatuni, a woman who was seven months pregnant and got up during the night to protect her children in their home, struck her fetus in the womb, shattering its head. The wounded mother lay in the Rafidiya Hospital in Nablus, hooked up to numerous tubes. She was going to name the baby Daoud. Does killing a fetus count as murder? And how "old" was the deceased? He was certainly the youngest of the many children Israel killed in the past year. 

Happy New Year. 


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Thursday, September 27, 2007

[ePalestine] Dinar Standard: Potential of the Palestinian Private Sector in Crisis

Dinar Standard: Monthly Newsletter
Business Strategies for the Muslim World
Sep/Oct 2007: Ramadan 1428 (A Very Happy & Blessed Ramadan to all)

Potential of the Palestinian Private Sector in Crisis

Special Report looks at opportunities within the resilent and vibrant Palestinian private sector. Also: 

•  Listed Companies of the Palestinian Stock Exchange 

•  Export Oriented Industry Breakdown 


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Monday, September 24, 2007

[ePalestine] Israel Denies Re-entry Visas to Holy Land Arab Christian Clergy

Israel Denies Re-entry Visas to Holy Land Arab Christian Clergy

The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF)
Toll free at +1-866-871-HCEF (4233)

The Israeli Government has rescinded its policy of granting re-entry visas to Arab Christian ministers, priests, nuns and other religious workers who wish to travel in and out of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, according to information provided to the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) by Christian clergy in Jerusalem. 

Until now, re-entry visas were normally granted in Israel by the Israeli Government to Arab Christian religious workers in the Holy Land, and clergy traveled relatively freely to and from points overseas, including the United States. 

However, HCEF has been informed that Arab Christian church workers will henceforth have to apply for re-entry visas at Israeli consulates abroad each time they travel outside the areas of Israeli control. 

Since visa applications submitted to Israeli missions abroad are normally not acted upon for months after they are filed, his new Israeli policy means that religious personnel will no longer be able to move freely between their parishes in the occupied territories and any points out side of those areas. 

Christian church workers normally travel frequently between their parishes and their churches’ offices in Jerusalem. Some also must travel often to countries outside the region, including the United States. 

Many of the clergy and other church workers in the occupied Palestinian territories are from nearby Jordan; the new Israeli policy will prevent them from visiting their families there. 

Indeed, that has already happened.  Rev. Fares Khleifat, a pastor and the only Greek Melkite priest in Ramallah, traveled to Jordan for several days in mid-September; when he tried to return to his parish on September 14, he was stopped at the Israeli border, and his valid, multiple-entry visa was canceled. 

Forced to remain in Jordan, he has been effectively deported from the Holy Land by the Israeli government, and his parish now has no priest. 

The new Israeli policy makes it unlikely that any Arab Christian priests, ministers or other religious workers from the Holy Land will be able to attend HCEF’s Ninth International Conference, scheduled for October 26-27 in Washington. 

Christian personnel based in the Holy Land have participated in all eight previous conferences of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. 


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Monday, September 17, 2007

[ePalestine] OCHA Fact Sheet: Increasing need, decreasing access: Humanitarian access to the West Bank

Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 

Date: 10 Sep 2007 

OCHA Fact Sheet: Increasing need, decreasing access: Humanitarian access to the West Bank 

UN agencies have been informed by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials that all crossings into the occupied Palestinian territory will be standardized by the end of 2007 by which time much of the construction of the Barrier will be completed. Already, UN agencies are seeing increasing restrictions at crossings into the West Bank similar to those already in place into Gaza. This Fact Sheet explains how existing and planned restrictions will seriously impair the ability of humanitarian organisations to operate. 

Humanitarian supplies into the West Bank: 

Until January 2007 the crossing regime consisted of twelve crossings at which humanitarian organisations could truck supplies through the Barrier. Trucks were allowed to drive directly into the West Bank from Israel and containers cleared at the port of entry could be taken directly to West Bank destinations. 

The IDF was the sole controlling authority at all crossings; final responsibility rested with the Ministry of Defense through the office of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories. 

Since January there has been a steady tightening of restrictions on the access for humanitarian goods and a reduction in the number of crossings that can be used. 

By early 2008 the planned regime will include: 

A reduction from 12 crossings to five for all import and export trucks. A sixth crossing near Bethlehem (Mazmouria) is scheduled to open towards the end of 2008. Three of the six crossings - Beitunya, Mazmouria and Tarqumiya - are inside the Green Line on Palestinian territory. 

A 'back-to-back' system will be installed whereby goods will have to be unloaded from trucks on the Israeli side of the Barrier, scanned, and then loaded onto trucks on the Palestinian side, and vice versa. 

Goods will have to be on palettes and scanned. Container loads may have to be 'palettised' in Israel before crossing into Israel or into the West Bank. Even if UN goods can remain in containers, UN agencies are concerned that the Palestinian transport sector will not have sufficient trucks requiring multiple contracts and resulting in long delays. They are also concerned that certain commodities may be restricted, as is currently the case in Gaza. For example, 20% of UNRWA's humanitarian supplies are not amenable to containerisation. 

A variety of authorities will be at the barrier crossing points including IDF, Border Police, civil Police, private security firms and Customs Department officers, answering to at least three different Ministries which will preclued a common and coherent chain of command. 

Impact: The impact on humanitarian services will be serious. There will be large additional costs for more trucks, drivers, and handling. Long delays, and damage to goods through extra handling can be foreseen. The security of goods will not be guaranteed. Humanitarian organisations anticipate major difficulty meeting the needs of the population. 

UNRWA has stated; "We will be unable to meet the needs of the population if these conditions exist".


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Friday, September 07, 2007

[ePalestine] Sarah, Mahmoud and Yehya

Sarah, Mahmoud and Yehya

Yassmin Moor writing from Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, The Electronic Intifada, Sep 5, 2007

Sarah, Mahmoud and Yehya Abu Ghazal (PCHR)

Sarah Abu Ghazal's school uniform still lay on her mattress, untouched as she had left it before running out after her cousins Mahmoud and Yehya Abu Ghazal on Wednesday, 29 August. She was to begin the fourth grade on 2 September, but her friend Amani, who has accompanied her to school since the first grade, would walk alone this year. Sarah's mother had bought her the blue school uniform, blue jeans and the black shoes just the day before she was killed by Israel tank fire. Her mother waited until the last minute to buy Sarah's school supplies because she was waiting for her husband's salary which he had not received since June. Still full of life, Sarah was readying her new clothes for the start of the school year when Yehya called for her to come out and play.

Ten-year-old Mahmoud looked up to Yehya and followed him wherever he went, as he did not have any brothers of his own. On the day he died he had just finished telling his mother not to buy him anything for school until Yehya had acquired his things. He made her promise only to buy the same things that Yehya had. Mahmoud was killed alongside Yehya and now lies buried right beside him.

One of nine children, Yehya was heading to the sixth grade this year after spending most of his summer herding his family's goats. From a small Bedouin community at the northern border of the Gaza Strip, by Beit Hanoun and the Erez border crossing, Yehya's family always bore the brunt of Israel's frequent incursions into and attacks on Gaza. The army rolls in almost every week and usually razes some land, arrests a few men and pulls out again. Yehya's father was arrested in September 2006 and has yet to be tried or charged as he sits in an Israeli prison. After Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the strip was ostensibly free, yet Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza at 3am, raided the family's house and arrested Yehya's father and uncle.

According to his mother, Yehya was walking his goats close to their house on that Wednesday afternoon when he lost sight of his herd. He spotted them sniffing around abandoned rocket launchers, so he went to retrieve them. Yehya followed the goats, trailed by Mahmoud and Sarah. Unseen soldiers in Israeli tanks identified them as "militants" and shot at them. The boys immediately died of their shrapnel wounds. Sarah passed away later that evening, alone in the hospital. Her family did not make it in time to see her because her body was taken to the hospital Beit Lahiya.

The Israeli army stated it had "identified and fired at several rocket launchers aimed at Israel." According to the Abu Ghazal family, rockets had not been fired from that area for the past nine months and the Israeli army knew this. However, the tanks were close enough for the soldiers manning them to see the children and they could have also relied on their large white reconnaissance balloon that constantly hovers over Beit Hanoun.

Trying to find a driver to go to the children's funeral in northern Beit Hanoun, on the second of the three days of mourning, was nearly impossible as it was like asking them to drive into crossfire. Beit Hanoun feels different from the rest of Gaza. The streets are empty, there is rubble everywhere, uprooted trees, razed land and there isn't much of a market. An area that used to be green agricultural land has been turned into an empty no man's land where no one dares to go. If there is a place in Gaza that feels like a war zone devastated by years of conflict, it's Beit Hanoun. The infamous Qassams can be seen and heard as they fly over the Gazan border and into Israel in retaliation to Israeli F-16 and tank shelling. Also overhead is the reconnaissance balloon that constantly tracks one's movement. The F-16s fly over the town more frequently than any other place in Gaza; no wonder drivers or anyone else don't want to go anywhere near Beit Hanoun.

The Bedouin community that the children came from is situated amongst the northern Gaza Strip's razed citrus groves and demolished buildings. Yehya and Mahmoud's fathers are brothers so they lived in the same three-bedroom house. The bedrooms are covered with asbestos, the living room is comprised of a sand floor in front of the bedrooms and the kitchen consists of a small stove and a table with a few pots. They have no electricity and no running water. The fruit of the villagers' daily labor on their lands used to provide for their subsistence but weekly Israeli invasions have destroyed their lands and therefore their livelihoods. They receive some aid from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, but have to travel to Beit Hanoun or Beit Lahiya for everything else. Their means of transportation are animal-drawn carts.

The mothers of all three children sat next to each other at their funeral while Israeli tanks at the border also sat stationed in the background. Yehya and Mahmoud's mothers were each holding a picture of their sons, while Sara's mother was holding a poster with Yehya and Mahmoud's pictures with their names written below. In between their pictures was an image of a bouquet of red roses, with Sarah's name underneath. "Israel just wants to shed our blood," said Yehya's mother, choking on her words. "They didn't do anything wrong ... they had no rockets, no tanks ... they were just playing," added Mahmoud's mother. They were all sitting on the mattress Yehya shared with Mahmoud. Mahmoud would sneak out of his mother's bedroom at night to go and sleep by Yehya. "They were meant to go together," said Yehya's mother, "Mahmoud would not have lived without Yehya. May God rest their souls together."

The next day, on the BBC the Israeli military stated that the killing of Yehya, Mahmoud and Sarah was an accident: "at the very last second, it was apparent that they were children, but it was impossible to stop the explosion." There was no mention of holding accountable the soldiers who killed them or at the very least any offer of support to the families and the community. They cannot leave their area, or their land, as they have nowhere else to go. Where's the justice for 12-year-old Yehya and his childhood, or 10-year-old Mahmoud who wanted nothing more than to have the same things as his friend, or 10-year-old Sarah who never got to wear her new school clothes?

Yassmin Moor is a Palestinian-American writing from Rafah, Gaza. She is currently working to implement a gardening project through an organization she co-founded, Save Gaza. Yassmin can be reached at yasminemoor A T gmail D O T com. 10:14 PM 9/7/2007


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Sunday, September 02, 2007

[ePalestine] IHT: Two Steps in One Go (and my reply) + TIME Magazine (and my reply)

NOTE:  My Letter to the Editor replying to the op-ed below was recently published and maybe read at:


August 15, 2007 

Op-Ed Columnist 

Two Steps in One Go

International Herald Tribune 


A brief document called "Two Steps in One Go" that attempts to fast-forward Palestinian statehood has landed on the desks that matter in the Middle East and is arousing considerable interest. 

Written by Terje Roed-Larsen, a senior United Nations official immersed in the region for decades, the proposal envisages the creation of a Palestinian state with provisional borders followed by state-to-state negotiations on final- status issues using principles agreed before Palestine's establishment. 

Israelis and Palestinians might agree, for example, on the principle that the borders of Palestine would be those of 1967 adjustable by territorial swaps involving 5 percent of the land. These swaps would be the object of subsequent state-to-state talks. 

"Palestinians are fed up with gradualism and don't believe it works," Roed- Larsen, a Norwegian who heads the New York-based International Peace Academy, told me. "Israelis are saying they don't trust the Palestinians enough to go to final-status talks. So we need something between the gradual and the total." 

His timing is good in a region that looks bad. Iran's rise has not yet led worried Sunni Arab governments to embrace Israel publicly, but it has caused a radical reassessment in which the Palestinian-Israeli conflict often looks like an irksome real-estate dispute while Tehran looks like the real threat. Some gulf states and Israel are talking quietly. 

Of the four interlocking Middle Eastern issues - the Iraq war, Iran resurgent, the Syrian-Lebanese tangle and Israel-Palestine - Roed-Larsen believes that "right now the latter is the easiest, because the others have no blueprint." 

That is a startling view, but I think he is right. This does not mean, of course, that the 59-year conflict has slithered from its self-perpetuating gyre. What it does mean is that this is not the time to focus on ensuring cement moves unimpeded between Hebron and Nablus. It is time to push for the finish line. 

Among those who have seen Roed-Larsen's two-page document are Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president; Haim Ramon, an Israeli deputy prime minister; Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister; King Abdullah of Jordan; Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State; and Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, with whom Roed-Larsen met this week. 

The proposal, presented in a private capacity, suggests that "the United States would play the leading role as the facilitator" and coordinate with "the international quartet and the Arab quartet." The former includes the European Union, Russia and the United Nations as well as the United States; the latter comprises Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. 

In practice, the idea is that the parties could make significant headway using these ideas before the Israeli-Palestinian peace conference the Bush Administration plans to hold in November. 

Saudi Arabia has indicated it might attend the conference, but only on condition that it deals with "the substance of peace." Roed-Larsen's proposal seems to address this concern. To bring Saudis and Israelis to the same public table would be a breakthrough. 

Roed-Larsen said, "The Bush administration is incredibly interested in achieving agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state before it leaves office." That would mean some time in 2008. 

The possibility seems remote. The Israeli government is weak. The Palestinian movement is divided between the Islamic militants of Hamas in Gaza and Abbas' secular Fatah in the West Bank. Iraqi mayhem and Iranian ascendancy are prodding the region toward radicalism. 

Iran and Syria know how much moral ammunition they would lose with any Israeli-Palestinian settlement and may well have the means, through various surrogates, to blast any possible deal out the water. 

But the fall of Gaza to Hamas has focused Israeli minds on the urgency of progress. Abbas is furious at the hijacking of the Palestinian national cause by jihadist radicals; he wants answers. Any Middle Eastern victory for President George W. Bush will not occur in Iraq. Tony Blair did not take on the role of peacemaker to sun himself by the Dead Sea. 

"All the principles should go as far as possible and then you do the nitty- gritty after statehood," Roed-Larsen said. Such principles could include the notion of Jerusalem as a two-state capital and a just settlement for Palestinian refugees. 

In practice, these two sharpest of thorns would have to be blunted together: the Palestinians get their capital in some part of East Jerusalem against a compromise on the right of return. But that gets resolved, simultaneously, state to state. 

An opportunity exists; Roed-Larsen's suggested process is valuable. For peace to follow, the political courage in Washington, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo and Riyadh will have to trump the zealotry in Tehran and Damascus. 



TIME Magazine

There was another interesting article in TIME Magazine that I also replied to but the letter has, not surprisingly, yet to be published:

and my unpublished reply:

Dear Editor, 

The article The West Bank: Mission Critical (Aug. 16, 2007, By Tim McGirk) has extremely valuable insight about the growing extremism in the Israeli military, however the reporter's insistence on using the word "disputed" to refer to the status of the Israeli, militarily-occupied, Palestinian territory is troubling. 

The entire world, including all members of the Middle East Quartet (US, Russia, EU, and UN), classify the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as "occupied" territory.  Only Israel, the occupying force, refuses to accept it's occupier status.  

Why then would TIME choose to side with the occupier's language and not even mention the word "occupation" in its reporting?  

Sam Bahour
Palestinian-American from Youngstown, Ohio
(from El-Bireh/Ramallah, Occupied West Bank)


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[ePalestine] Financial Times: West Bank policy 'not aiding peace'

West Bank policy 'not aiding peace' 

Financial Times
31 August 2007 


Israeli infrastructure that divides the West Bank and confines 2.5m Palestinians to enclaves does not provide a basis for a two-state solution to the conflict, said a United Nations report yesterday. 

The critical report*  from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs comes as diplomatic efforts are expected to pick up pace amid what Michael Williams, the UN's outgoing Middle East co-ordinator, calls "signs of hope". 

Mr Williams also pointed to the Jewish settlements in his final briefing to the UN Security Council on Wednesday before taking up his post as envoy for Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister. "Settlement activity undermines hope for a contiguous Palestinian state," he said. 

Almost 40 per cent of the West Bank is off-limits to Palestinians because of Israeli settlements, military infrastructure and a system of roads designed to ease access for Jewish settlers, justified by Israel as protection from terrorism. 

The report says: "These measures are also intimately linked to maintaining settler access and their quality of life." 

Israel took the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in 1967. Settlements are deemed illegal under international law, but about 450,000 Jewish settlers now live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Settlers left Gaza in 2005. 

The West Bank closely resembles Israeli proposals first made after the 1967 war in terms of infrastructure and territory for Palestinians. Restrictions have tightened since the intifada uprising began in 2000 via the enclave system and the building of a barrier. 

A US-sponsored Middle East conference is due to be held in November, although little has been decided yet. 

Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister, came to power promising pull-outs from the West Bank but was left badly weakened by last year's Lebanon war. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, lost control in Gaza when the Islamic movement Hamas seized power inJune. 

Nonetheless, Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, and Tony Blair, the new international Middle East envoy, are due in the region next month to nudge both sides towards progress. 

Observers say MrWilliams, as British envoy, may have more leeway to push for a peace dealthan Mr Blair, who would have to take his lead from the US. 


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