Friday, November 30, 2007

[ePalestine] 2 Radio Interviews: Global Journalist Radio & Candadian Dimension

Global Journalist Radio 

The Middle East Peace Conference in Annapolis 

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Candadian Dimension - ALERT Radio 

Alert #74, November 29th, 2007

The meeting between Abbas, Olmert and Bush at Annapolis this week ended with an agreement to negotiate all the issues dividing the Palestinians and Israelis and establish a Palestinian state within 12 months. Sam Bahour lives and works in Ramallah. He talks about how this agreement looks from the streets of Palestine. 

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

[ePalestine] HALPER: When the Roadmap is a One Way Street


November 28, 2007
When the Roadmap is a One Way Street
Israel's Strategy for Permanent Occupation


One may well think that the struggle inside the Jewish community of Israel is between those of the political right, who want to maintain the settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank so as to "redeem" the Greater Land of Israel as a Jewish country, and those of the left who seek a two-state solution with the Palestinians and are thus willing to relinquish enough of the "territories", if not all, in order that a viable Palestinian state may emerge. 

This is not really the case. Polls and the make-up of the Israeli government suggest that perhaps a quarter of Israeli Jews fall into the first group, the die-hards, while not more than 10 per cent support a full withdrawal from the occupied territories. (Virtually no Israeli Jews use the term "occupation," which Israel denies it has.) The vast majority of Israeli Jews, stretching from the liberal Meretz party through Labour, Kadima and into the "liberal" wing of the Likud, excepting only the religious parties and the extreme right-wing led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the current minister of strategic affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, share a broad consensus: for both security reasons and because of Israel's "facts on the ground", the Arabs (as we [Israelis] call the Palestinians) will have to settle for a truncated mini- state on no more than 15-20 per cent of the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. 

What's more, it's agreed that the decision whether to relinquish any territory and how much is an exclusively Israeli decision. We may proffer to the Palestinians some kind of a "generous offer" if they behave themselves and it suits our purpose, but any initiative in the direction of "peace" must be unilateral. The Palestinians may indicate a preference, but the decision is ours and ours alone. Our power, our all-encompassing concern for security and the plain fact that the Arabs just don't count (except as a nuisance factor) limit any peace process to, at best, a willingness to grant them a tiny Bantustan on four or five cantons, all encircled by Israeli settlements and the military. Israeli control of the entire Land of Israel, whether for religious, national or security reasons, is a given, never to be compromised. 

This is, of course, completely unacceptable to the Palestinians. That by itself doesn't matter, but it does raise a fundamental problem. In any genuine negotiations leading to just, sustainable and mutually agreed-upon agreement, Israel would have to give up much more than it is willing to do. Negotiations must take place once in a while, if only to project an image of Israel as a country seeking peace--Annapolis being merely the latest charade--but they can never lead to any real breakthrough because two- thirds of the Jewish public support a permanent Israeli presence in the occupied territories, civilian and military, that forecloses a viable Palestinian state. How, then, does Israel retain its major settlements, a "greater" Jerusalem and control over territory and borders without appearing intransigent? How can it maintain its image as the only seeker of peace and the victim of Arab terrorism, effectively concealing its own violence and, indeed, the very fact of occupatio n in order to shift the blame to the Palestinians? 

The answer for the past 40 years of occupation is the status quo, delay, while quietly expanding the settlements and strengthening its grip on Judea and Samaria (again, we do not use the terms "occupation" or "occupied territories" in Israel, not to mention "Palestinian"). Just look at the run-up to Annapolis and the negotiations Israel is promising. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said recently that "Annapolis is a landmark on the path to negotiations and of the genuine effort to achieve the realization of the vision of two nations: the State of Israel--the nation of the Jewish people; and the Palestinian state--the nation of the Palestinian people". Sounds good, doesn't it? Now look at the pre-conditions Israel has imposed just in the two weeks before Annapolis: 

Redefining Phase 1 of the Road Map. The first phase of the Road Map, the very basis of negotiations, calls for Israel to freeze its settlement construction. That is something Israel will obviously not do. So, on the basis of a letter former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received from President Bush in 2004--a fundamental change in American policy that nevertheless does not commit the other members of the Road Map "Quartet", Europe, Russia and the UN--Israel announced that it defines the areas considered "occupied" by the Quartet as only those areas falling outside its major settlement blocs and "greater" Jerusalem. Thus, unilaterally, Israel (and the US apparently) reduced the territory to be negotiated with the Palestinians from 22 per cent to a mere 15 per cent, and that truncated into fragmented cantons. 

Requiring recognition of Israel as a "Jewish state." The Palestinians are required to formally recognize the state of Israel. They did so already in 1988 when they accepted the two-state solution, at the outset of the Oslo process and repeatedly over the past two decades. Now comes a fresh demand: that before any negotiations they recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Not only does that introduce an entirely new element that Israel knows the Palestinians will not accept, but it prejudices the equal status of Palestinian citizens of Israel, a full 20 per cent of the Israeli population. This leads the way to transfer, to ethnic cleansing. Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, recently told a press conference that the future of Israel's Arab citizens is in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel itself. 

Creating insurmountable political obstacles. Two weeks before Annapolis was to convene, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, passed a law that a majority of two-thirds would be required to approve any change in the status of Jerusalem, an impossible threshold. 

Delayed implementation. OK, the Israeli government says, we'll negotiate. But the implementation of any agreement will wait on the complete cessation of any resistance on the part of the Palestinians. Given the fact that Israel views any resistance, armed or non-violent, as a form of terrorism, this erects yet another insurmountable obstacle before any peace process. 

Declaring a "transitional" Palestinian state. If all else fails--actually negotiating with the Palestinians or relinquishing the occupation not being an option--the US, at Israel's behest, can manage to skip Phase 1 of the Road Map and go directly to Phase 2, which calls for a "transitional" Palestinian state before, in Phase 3, its actual borders, territory and sovereignty are agreed upon. This is the Palestinians' nightmare: being locked indefinitely in the limbo of a "transitional" state. For Israel it is ideal, since it offers the possibility of imposing borders and expanding into the Palestinian areas unilaterally yet, since its fait accompli is only "transitional," seeming to conform to the Road Map's requirement to decide the final issues through negotiations. 

The end result, towards which Israel has been progressing deliberately and systematically since 1967, can only be called apartheid, which means "separation" in Afrikaner, precisely the term Israel uses to describe its policy (hafrada in Hebrew). And it is apartheid in the strict sense of the term: one population separating itself from the rest, then dominating them permanently and institutionally through a political regime like an expanded Israel locking the Palestinians into dependent and impoverished cantons. The overriding question for the Israeli government, then, is not how to reach peace. If peace and security were truly the issue, Israel could have had that 20 years ago if it would have conceded the 22 per cent of the country required for a viable Palestinian state. Today, when Israel's control is infinitely stronger, why, ask the Israeli Jewish public and the government it elects, should we concede anything significant? We enjoy peace with Egypt and Jordan, and Syria is dying to negotiate. We have relations with most Arab and Muslim states. We enjoy the absolute and uncritical support of the world's only superpower, supported by a compliant Europe. Terrorism is under control, the conflict has been made manageable, Israel's economy is booming. What, ask Israelis, is wrong with this picture? 

No, the issue for Israel is rather how to transform its Occupation from what the world considers a temporary situation to a permanent political fact accepted by the international community, de facto if need be or, if apartheid can be finessed in the form of a two-state solution, then formally. And here's the dilemma, and the source of debate within the Israeli government: does Israel continue with the strategy that has served it so well these past 40 years, delaying or prolonging negotiations so as to maintain the status quo, all the while strengthening its hold over the Palestinian territories or, at this unique but fleeting moment in history when George Bush is still in office, does it try to nail it all down, forcing upon the Palestinians a transitional state within the framework of the Road Map? 

Olmert, following Sharon, is pushing for the former. Netanyahu, Lieberman, the right-wing (including many in Olmert's own party) and, significantly, Labour Chairman and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, always a military hawk, are resisting out of fear that even a process of pretend negotiations might get out of hand, creating expectations on Israel. Better, they say, to stay with the tried-and-true policy of status quo which can, if cleverly managed, extend indefinitely. Besides, Bush is a lame duck, and no pressure will be put on Israel until June 2009, at least six months after the next American president is inaugurated, Democrat or Republican. We're just fine until then; why rock the boat? The only tricky time for Israel is the two years in the midst of a presidential term. We can weather that. Annapolis? We'll try cautiously for apartheid, hoping that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], prodded by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, will play the role of collaborator. If that doesn't work, well, status quo is always a reliable default. 

In the meantime, as long as the Israeli public enjoys peace-and-quiet and a good economy, and as long as it remains convinced that security requires Israel to retain control of the territories, no pressure will come from the home front for any meaningful change of policy. Given this political landscape in Israel, in the territories and abroad, it's hard for Israeli leaders to conceal their ebullient feeling that, whether formally or not, "we've won". 

Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a candidate, with the Palestinian peace activist Ghassan Andoni, for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He can be reached at 


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Saturday, November 24, 2007

[ePalestine] NPR: Recipes of the West Bank Olive Harvest

Dear friends, 

I just finished harvesting our families olive tress.  There is nothing so rewarding as the aroma and taste of newly pressed olive oil.  After you read the article below on how we use the oil, support the olive harvest in Palestine by visiting to get your own supply: 

Bringing Palestine to your dinner table,



Recipes of the West Bank Olive Harvest 

November 21, 2007 ·  The annual West Bank olive harvest holds special significance for Palestinians. Read recipes and stories about some of the traditional dishes enjoyed in conjunction with the olive oil season. 

Read on and get recipies at:


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Friday, November 23, 2007

[ePalestine] Interview: Crossing The Line - Ethnic Cleansing Podcast Available!

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

This week on Crossing The Line, Israel continues its policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and barring internationals from documenting Israeli human rights violations, Sam Bahour will join us to talk more about this ongoing policy. 

Then, a Palestinian mother of seven dies at the border as yet another casualty of Israel's border closure of the Gaza Strip, where more than a dozen critically ill patients have died as a result of collective punishment. Electronic Intifada frequent contributor and Crossing The Line correspondent, Rami Almeghari will speak more on this story. 

Plus, masked Palestinian resistance fighters take over a classroom in Gaza, but they haven't  come to violate international laws, they've come to learn about them, Iyad Nasr - spokesperson for the International Committee of The Red Cross will join us to explain. 

Then later in the podcast The War's Toll compiled and read by Scott Burgwin of the Stand Independent News Service. -- "Of all of our studies, history is the one best suited to reward our research."___Malcolm X 

Skype: ChristoBrown 

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


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Sunday, November 18, 2007

[ePalestine] LA Times: Making the inevitable happen (By Bernard Avishai and Sam Bahour)

From the Los Angeles Times

Making the inevitable happen
Everyone knows the outlines of the Middle East peace accord. What's missing is the political will to achieve it.
By Bernard Avishai and Sam Bahour

November 18, 2007 

Anybody who knows anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict knows that the leaders expected at a summit meeting in Annapolis, Md., later this month, won't devise a deal. That's because the outlines of the deal have already been devised, in bits and pieces, through the Clinton parameters; the Taba summit; the Arab League proposal; international law, including myriad U.N. resolutions; and semiformal understandings, such as the Geneva Initiative. 

So couples therapy is not what's needed at this stage; it's tough love. World powers, mainly the United States, should publicly endorse the deal, which is the only way to secure a place in the global economy that both Israel and Palestine need. What's largely been settled is this: The foundation will be the boundaries from before the 1967 war, and Israel will compensate Palestine with land for agreed-upon border modifications; Jerusalem will be capital to both states, and its Old City will be open, free of checkpoints and restricted areas; international forces will help keep the peace, especially where jurisdictions are shared; the bulk of Palestinian refugees will exercise their right of return by settling in the new state of Palestine and accepting financial compensation, though a certain number will be allowed to return to Israel proper; and, finally, all Arab states simultaneously will recognize Israel. To be sure, there are contentious details to be hammered out, including how and when to remove Israeli settlers and repatriate Palestinian refugees. But generally speaking, that's the deal, and who hasn't heard it? 

Why, then, do many doubt that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can get to yes in Annapolis in the coming weeks? Already the headlines predict "Derailment," "Doomed to Failure," and "Dead End." Olmert and Abbas are too weak, we are told. Neither can sell the necessary compromises to his people. But the opinion polls suggest that both leaders would be pushing on an open door. Substantial majorities of Israelis and Palestinians -- 60% to 70% -- endorse the elements of the deal. When pundits and reporters call Olmert and Abbas weak, what they're really saying is this: They are personally unpopular and could well lose any election that was held today. 

However, both have provisional support to pursue what is left of the peace process, and, in fact, their only chance at recovering political prestige is to deliver an agreement. But the clock is ticking. If, God forbid, there is an Israeli-Palestinian fight to the finish, Olmert and Abbas are hardly the leaders their peoples will turn to. 

Behind their diplomacy is economic urgency. Olmert and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are often called centrists, but they are really products of Israel's business and professional elite, whose influence is underestimated. They know full well that Israel cannot sustain an economy like Singapore's through an ethnic war like Serbia's. 

During the relatively peaceful 1990s, Israel became a high-tech player. And over the last decade, dozens of venture capital firms invested well over $11 billion dollars in innovative start-ups -- from medical instruments to Internet firewalls. But know-how is not enough to keep that growth going. Israeli entrepreneurs need unimpeded access to global corporations and markets that only lasting peace can ensure. 

Israel also faces the risk of a devastating brain drain if the violence doesn't end. A recent study found that 44% of young Israelis "would seriously think of leaving Israel if it would result in an improved standard of living." Many grumble about the disappearance of a secular center and the creeping polarization of the country. In Israel proper, one-quarter of first- graders are ultra-Orthodox, and another quarter are Arab children living, in effect, segregated lives. If the professional classes don't stay to advance the overall quality of life, how will Israel rehabilitate its failing educational infrastructure or assimilate Israeli Arabs into an urban civil society? 

On the Palestinian side, the economic pressures are even more dire. The Palestinian professional elite -- mainly based in Ramallah -- is desperate for capital and calm to invest in new housing and infrastructure. This elite is highly educated, but it cannot build its markets or businesses when Israeli checkpoints disrupt commerce daily. Likewise, it needs a coherent government that represents all Palestinians -- not the fractured West Bank-Gaza situation that exists now. 

The 1994 Oslo peace accords cracked open the door for the return of diaspora Palestinians, who started to invest in the state's future beyond the military occupation. But then Oslo foundered, and the new intifada started. Since then, the Palestinians have suffered an even more serious brain drain than Israel's. A staggering number of Gaza businesspeople have closed their doors and are looking to emigrate. The Palestinian Christian community in Bethlehem, among the most educated, has dropped from more than 75% of the city's population to less than 30%. Palestine graduates hundreds of computer scientists who are looking for jobs abroad. 

Abbas already represents a fragmented and battered people, with Hamas in control of Gaza and a substantial force in Nablus, Jenin and other West Bank cities. His leadership will fail under the weight of more poverty and extremism. Half of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are younger than 18, and 40% of all Palestinians live in poverty. But if Abbas can bring about the end of the occupation and open up Palestine's virgin markets, a flock of Palestinians will reengage in state-building. Israel could be a big part of Palestinian growth, creating jobs in technology and tourism. The potential for peacetime growth is huge: Jerusalem gets about 1.5 million tourists a year now, whereas a city such as Prague draws 8 million. 

Understandably, perhaps, the media prefer to focus on dramatic threats to the peace process -- new Jewish settlements around the West Bank, Gaza's homemade missiles or Iran's nuclear ambitions. But these only underscore how imperative it is to end this conflict and consolidate the sources of regional stability, which are mainly economic. If the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is allowed to continue, then one intifada will be followed by another, and the next upheaval could be in Amman. 

Which brings us to the most plausible argument against success at Annapolis. Olmert and Abbas will fail, pundits say, because they face radically aggressive domestic opposition -- Scripture-hawk settlers on one side, Hamas on the other. Each leader cannot put his fragile "national unity" at risk for the sake of a peace deal that depends on the other weak leader. But this is precisely where the U.S. comes in. To trump the hard- liners, each has to show that he is moved by bigger forces, economic and geopolitical. The most immediate force is American interests and policy. 

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice apparently grasps the regional dynamic. She has stated repeatedly that failure will yield unprecedented new threats. But by not publicly adopting the inevitable deal, she has not added the one threat that Olmert and Abbas actually can use. She has not emphasized to their supporters -- and their opponents -- that U.S. security interests are in play, which they are; that Washington's full weight is behind Annapolis; and that Americans know the logic of an agreement by now. 

If Rice takes a firm public stand in demanding a final settlement, she strengthens Olmert and Abbas, who can point to the danger of defying the U.S. But if she merely offers mediation services, the summit may well fail. And failure means the United States' standing in the region -- so diminished after its debacle in Iraq -- just got worse. 

Bernard Avishai is a writer and consultant living in Jerusalem. His book, "The Hebrew Republic," will be published in April. Sam Bahour is a consultant and entrepreneur living in Ramallah. He is co-editor of "Homeland: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians." 

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times 

If you would like to make a comment about this commentary and have it considered for publication in the newspaper as a Letter to the Editor, please send it to -- send well-written individual letters only; no group e-mails. Do not send attachments.


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Saturday, November 17, 2007

[ePalestine] Vatican envoy: Ties with Israel are deteriorating

Dear friends,

I apologize for yesterday's post being a past dated article.  I was not aware of that at the time of post. Nevertheless, today's below post is in the same vein and from today's paper.

In a related denied entry story see the following: Volunteer for Sabeel in Jerusalem denied re-entry into Israel. Krista is a good friend:


w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 07:29 17/11/2007
Vatican envoy: Ties with Israel are deteriorating
By News Agencies

Relations between Israel and the Vatican "were better" before the two established full diplomatic ties in 1993, according to a senior Vatican diplomat and former top Holy See envoy to Jerusalem. 

Israel has also failed to keep promises to ease travel restrictions on Catholic clerics and remove taxes on Church-owned property in the Holy Land, Monsignor Pietro Sambi said in an interview posted Friday on the Franciscan Order's Web site. 

"The Holy See decided to establish diplomatic relations (in 1993) with Israel as an act of faith, leaving to latter the serious promises to regulate concrete aspects of the life of the Catholic community and the Church in Israel," Sambi, the Papal Nuncio to the United States, said. 

"If I must be frank, the relations between the Catholic Church and the state of Israel were better when there were no diplomatic ties," he continued. 

Among the issues hanging are the status of expropriated church property, services that Catholic groups perform for Israel's Jewish and Arab population, and tax exemptions for the Church. 

The Vatican diplomat also cited a current sore point - the granting of permits for Arab Christian clergy traveling to and around the West Bank, which has rescinded because of security concerns. 

Sambi complained that the Knesset has failed to give necessary approval to various accords that had been signed by both sides, and noted that an impasse over taxes has been discussed on and off for nearly 10 years without resolution. 

He blamed the situation on Israel's absence of political will. "Everyone can see what kind of trust you can give to Israel's promises," Sambi said. 

Asked about Sambi's criticisms, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that "Israel is interested in good relations with the Vatican and Israeli and Vatican officials are working to overcome gaps that exist." 

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the interview with Sambi reflects his thinking and his personal experience during the diplomat's former posting in Israel. 

Lombardi said the Holy See reiterated the hope, expressed in September when Benedict met with President Shimon Peres, for a rapid conclusion of the important negotiations and a common solution to existing problems. 

Earlier this year, tensions developed between the Vatican and Israel when the Holy See's ambassador to Israel initially decided to boycott a Holocaust memorial service because of allegations that during World War II Pope Pius XII was silent about the mass killings of Jews. 

While Israel has in the past offered to create a special panel to oversee property cases involving the Vatican, it has also expressed fear that giving tax exemptions to the Catholic Church could open the door for other churches and groups to seek similar treatment. 


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Friday, November 16, 2007

[ePalestine] Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 02:01 12/10/2004
Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them
By Amiram Barkat

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face. 

The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot. 

On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop's 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student. 

Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days. 

But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something. 

"When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?" he asks. 

According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, "as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country." 

Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate. 

There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday."I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday," he says. 

Former adviser to the mayor on Christian affairs, Shmuel Evyatar, describes the situation as "a huge disgrace." He says most of the instigators are yeshiva students studying in the Old City who view the Christian religion with disdain. 

"I'm sure the phenomenon would end as soon as rabbis and well-known educators denounce it. In practice, rabbis of yeshivas ignore or even encourage it," he says. 

Evyatar says he himself was spat at while walking with a Serbian bishop in the Jewish quarter, near his home. "A group of yeshiva students spat at us and their teacher just stood by and watched." 

Jerusalem municipal officials said they are aware of the problem but it has to be dealt with by the police. Shmuel Ben-Ruby, the police spokesman, said they had only two complaints from Christians in the past two years. He said that, in both cases, the culprits were caught and punished. 

He said the police deploy an inordinately high number of patrols and special technology in the Old City and its surroundings in an attempt to keep order. 


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Friday, November 09, 2007

[ePalestine] HASS: A moment before the lights go out

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
Last update - 10:00 07/11/2007
A moment before the lights go out
By Amira Hass

Alan Johnston, the BBC corresponded kidnapped in Gaza, related in an interview that at a relatively early stage, he started suffering from all kinds of aches because of the water he drank. This was the same water that the kidnappers drank, but Johnston's unaccustomed body sent warning signals: This is not water that is fit for drinking. And this is the water that reaches most of the taps in the Gaza Strip. Salty, in a few places brackish to contaminated, with an oily consistency. That is clearly felt when bathing. 

The reason is an ancient one: overpumping because Gaza must make do with the waters from its aquifer alone. It is as if we were to say to the residents of Be'er Sheva: make do with the water that flows nearby. The water sources in the rest of the country are not for you. 

Over the last few years, there have been some improvised private and public solutions. Private water purification plants in homes and commercial companies that sell purified water. 

The municipalities, for their part, set up large brackish water desalination facilities and several central taps. Thousands of people go there daily to fill up jerry-cans with water that will not taste like it came from a puddle and will not cause diarrhea, infections, kidney problems and who knows what else. 

The electricity and fuel supply to Gaza has already been reduced to below the level of basic human needs. An additional reduction will affect the above solutions to the water problem, and beyond. "To darken Gaza," as some of the security experts among us have recently proposed, does not end merely with darkened homes at night. You don't have to be an expert in public health to realize that it would create an endless chain reaction of public health problems and environmental blights. 

Today, around a year and a half after Israel bombed the transformer station in Gaza, only 193 megawatts out of the 240 or so it needs is supplied to the Strip. 

The water network is the biggest energy consumer in the Gaza Strip: it requires approximately 25 megawatts of the 240 megawatts the Gaza Strip needs. 

The 135 wells across the Gaza Strip that supply water, poor quality as it may be, cannot function if the electricity and diesel fuel supply is cut further. The same is true of sewage treatment plants. 

Already now, each day, no water is supplied to around 15 percent of the Strip's residents. Each area receives water only every other day. The water is pumped electrically and stored in home reservoirs on every rooftop. Power outages are frequent. 

When a power outage in a given area occurs on a day when the municipalities channel water to it, the houses are denied water for three, and sometimes even four, days. 

The water network also needs around 150,000 liters of diesel fuel per month. The sewage system needs around 100,000 liters. 

The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, the supplier of sewage and water services in the Gaza Strip obtained only 60,000 liters of diesel fuel in October, because the quantity of fuels sold from Israel to the Gaza Strip was reduced. And this is before "the darkening" proposed by Ehud Barak and Matan Vilnai. 

The water company must choose to favor the sewage system over the water system. As the deputy CEO of the company, Maher Najjar, explains: The collapse of the sewage system entails a bigger humanitarian threat. 

Just imagine a huge flood of sewage. Hence, for example, the seven wells in the northern Gaza Strip that are diesel operated were allocated only 2,000 liters of diesel in early November, instead of the 10,500 liters needed to operate them. 

Even before the lights go out, Israel is prohibiting the entry of raw materials into the Gaza Strip. 

No one is talking any more about dozens of development projects that have consequently been frozen, such as the one to desalinate well water that serves the residents of the El Bureij refugee camp. Let them continue drinking the water that endangers their health. 

Raw material is not the only thing Israel is barring entry of: Vital spare parts are also being barred entry. In the Gaza City sewage treatment facility there are several minor malfunctions. 

However, Israel is barring the entry of the spare parts needed to repair them. Sewage undergoes only minimal treatment before it flows into the sea. And the sea, of course, doesn't stop at the Erez or Rafiah checkpoints. 


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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

[ePalestine] WP: Land of the Freed: For two members of the 'Los Angeles Eight,' America finally acts to right a wrong.

Dear friends,

For those of you old enough to remember this case of the LA8.

For more info:

Hats off to persistence,

Land of the Freed 
For two members of the 'Los Angeles Eight,' America finally acts to right a wrong. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2007; A20 

LAST WEEK, after almost 21 years, the U.S. government agreed to drop its case against Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh. The two men, who are of Palestinian descent, were permanent legal residents of the United States when they were targeted for deportation because of their alleged affiliation with a terrorist group. The government's evidence was so flimsy and its legal arguments so bizarre that many in the immigrants' rights, civil liberties and Arab American communities came to see the case as an overt act of hostility by the government toward people of Arab descent -- and understandably so. 

The saga began in 1987 when Mr. Hamide and Mr. Shehadeh, along with six others who came to be known as the Los Angeles Eight, were arrested and accused of supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an extremist offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PFLP is, in fact, a loathsome group that relies on violence and terrorist tactics as strategic tools. The men had raised money for the group and distributed its magazine, although they consistently denied they were members and claimed to have donated money to fund the group's humanitarian work in assisting displaced Palestinians. Apparently the government recognized from the beginning that its case was weak, because it decided to try to deport the men under a Cold War-era law prohibiting membership in an international communist organization; the PFLP espoused Marxist ideology. 

The law, under fire from court challenges, was repealed in 1990. But that didn't stop the government, which in 2003 tried to remove the two men from the country by retroactively applying a law that did not exist in 1987. This law, which prohibits "material support" of a terrorist organization, was passed in 1996 -- almost a decade after the men were arrested. 

In dropping the case, the government conceded only that neither Mr. Hamide nor Mr. Shehadeh are "currently" believed to be dangerous. Yet in 20-plus years of federal court filings and immigration proceedings, prosecutors were unable to produce a shred of evidence to show that the men were a threat. 

Mr. Hamide and Mr. Shehadeh have lived lawfully in this country with their families for decades. Now that the case against them has been dropped, they will be allowed to apply for citizenship in three years. Both have said they will do so. It speaks volumes about these two men -- and, we'd like to hope, about the ideals of the United States that were violated in the execution of this case -- that Mr. Hamide and Mr. Shehadeh still wish to be bound as citizens to a country that has treated them so shabbily. 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company 


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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

[ePalestine] NYT: Gaza’s Reflection in a Foul Threat

The New York Times

November 6, 2007
Gaza’s Reflection in a Foul Threat

UMM AL NASSER, Gaza, Oct. 30 — Fahmi al-Abrak, 70, was at home on March 27 when a lagoon of human waste broke through its sand embankment and hurtled downhill, inundating this poor village of Bedouins in northern Gaza. “It rose to here in 15 seconds,” he said, pointing to a discolored line on the walls, four feet above ground. 

Five people died, drowned in the wave of waste, along with scores of goats, sheep and chickens. Nearly 1,000 people had to be taken out of the village. Now, Mr. Abrak said, “I’m afraid to go to sleep at night.” 

The lagoon disaster seemed a sort of metaphor for Gaza — overcrowded, lacking in resources, coping with makeshift answers to long-term problems. But the lagoon, which held more than 150,000 cubic yards, is dwarfed by the huge lake of sewage it was built to reduce. 

That lake, which itself holds sewage overflow, now contains almost four million cubic yards of water and human waste, covering about 100 acres, and it is again creeping close to the danger point. Its sand embankment was reinforced this summer, and two more outlet ponds have been dug in the sand. But more waste enters daily than is discharged, the lake is only six feet below the embankment and the winter rains are coming. 

And yet a project to fix the problem is stalled by politics and conflict. Israel has declared Gaza “hostile territory” and is sharply limiting the kinds of goods allowed in. 

The restrictions cover many ordinary items not considered essential to human life. But they also cover things like metal pipes, welding machines and the wire used to refurbish electric motors — things that Israel believes could have secondary use by the Hamas administration and the Palestinian gunmen who fire rockets toward nearby Israeli towns like Sderot. 

Israel, obliged to protect its citizens, is trying to press Hamas both militarily and economically. It says it will now reduce supplies of diesel fuel, gasoline and even electrical power in response to recent rocket barrages. 

But as Mike Bailey of the aid group Oxfam pointed out, the pumps that drive sewage treatment run on electricity and fuel, as do those that pull drinking water from the very aquifer the sewage treatment system was originally designed to replenish. 

He said the level of the lake was one problem, and the rain’s effect on the sand embankment was another. “There could be a break, or if there’s an overflow, it will carry the embankment with it, like New Orleans,” he said. “Large quantities of water and sewage will travel downhill fast.” 

But the pumps have been moved to the teeming city of Khan Yunis, where another sewage disaster is threatening. Trying to save money, residents there hooked their sewer pipes to a system to catch rainwater and have filled it with waste, creating a sludge that blocks drainage. With the coming rains, that system threatens to overflow, forcing sewage back into homes and businesses and polluting the aquifer and the wells that supply most drinking water. 

A Japanese project for repairs at Khan Yunis was suspended when Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006. So the International Committee for the Red Cross is helping to build two pits for the overflow, but pumps are needed to get the sewage up to the pits, which are not yet built. 

Even before this latest crisis, a World Bank project to replace the northern facility and drain the lake into nine new treatment ponds was delayed for nearly two years. The area had suffered from warfare with Israel, internal Palestinian clashes, strikes by workers and other problems. 

But Israel has also restricted the import of steel pipe from two to six inches in diameter, wire mesh, cement, welding machines and pumps, saying Hamas can use all of them to build bunkers, as Hezbollah did in southern Lebanon, or to make rockets. 

Anthony Dalziel of the Red Cross said his organization had no trouble importing medicine and did not criticize Israel’s security concerns. But the results, for the sewage crisis, have meant “a lot of temporary solutions that are supposed to be for six months and end up having to last six years,” he said. 

“It’s indicative of the infrastructure crisis here,” Mr. Dalziel said. “Everything is linked to access into Gaza of materials, cement, fuel, parts, electrical transformers and engineers. So we struggle to create ad hoc solutions as opposed to better, cheaper, permanent ones.” 

Monther I. Shoblak, director of the Gaza Emergency Water Project for the Palestinian Authority’s water utility, said he needs the materials, not more money, adding: “Almost nothing of what I need has been allowed to enter Gaza since May.” 

If the lake overflowed, he said, “it would be a tsunami of waste.” In three seconds, he estimated, more than 800 homes and 10,000 people would be hit by a wave up to six yards high, and then the wave would return. Oxfam estimates that 50,000 people could be displaced and 200,000 affected. 

Shlomo Dror, spokesman for the Israeli authority that coordinates with Gaza, said Israel was coordinating with the World Bank and would prefer the use of plastic pipes, which Israel uses, and not steel, which project engineers insist is necessary near the pumps to deal with the pressure. 

The lagoon broke in March, he said, “because there is no security there and people were stealing the sand.” 

His boss, Col. Nir Press, said Israel has met regularly with the World Bank and other agencies, has allowed the import of parts and pumps and may allow some steel pipe, if there is a credible guarantee that it will not be used in making rockets. “We don’t want this disaster, either,” he said. “I don’t think they’re working urgently enough. I assure you we are as concerned as they.” 

Mr. Shoblak, the water utility official, is working on another patch: a third treatment pond, for which he needs Israeli permission, and two more mobile pumps to replace those now in Khan Yunis. Most of all, he said, “I need pipes.” 

Mr. Bailey of Oxfam said that Mr. Shoblak was “a juggler doing well with old equipment.” But since June, few spare parts have been imported to repair his old pumps, which serve 33 sewage pumping stations, 130 drinking water wells, three treatment plants and four storm water pumping stations. “It’s like flying a plane with all the needles in the red,” Mr. Bailey said. “Without spare parts, you can fall out of the sky.” 

Mr. Shoblak put it differently. “How many Palestinians need to drown?” he asked. 

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company 


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