Friday, May 20, 2011

[ePalestine] Jewish Post & News: Israel Lost in Denial (by Sam Bahour)

Jewish Post & News 

Israel Lost in Denial 


The Israeli government’s sigh of relief was surely heard around the globe. When the rift between Palestinian factions existed, Israel simply brushed off any possibility for resolution of the conflict, claiming that the Palestinian president was simply too weak to implement any agreement as along as Hamas was in control of Gaza. Then, taking all by surprise, the two largest Palestinian factions declared an end to their five-year disunity and signed a reconciliation agreement brokered by the post-Mubarak Egyptian government. The agreement itself reads more like a power-sharing agreement, something every living democracy knows very well. However, before the ink on the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement was dry, Israel opened its worn out play script and started reading from past chapters; this time the Israeli kneejerk reaction–within hours–was that there is no way to make peace with Palestinians as long as Hamas is involved. This would be comic if lives, both Palestinian and Israeli, were not at stake. 

Let’s take a step back and look at the facts, possibly inconvenient facts for many. Why did Israel, from the outset of the Oslo process nearly two decades ago, enter into an agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization, better known as the PLO? There is no secret here. The first step that kicked off the entire infamous Oslo Accords was an exchange of letters, one of which the PLO, via its late Chairman Yasser Arafat, provided to Israel. The full text of the document is public knowledge and states unequivocally, in its entirety: 

“The signing of the Declaration of Principles marks a new era...I would like to confirm the following PLO commitments: The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. The PLO accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The PLO commits a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations...the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators...the PLO affirms that those articles of the Palestinian Covenant which deny Israel’s right to exist, and the provisions of the Covenant which are inconsistent with the commitments of this letter are now inoperative and no longer valid. Consequently, the PLO undertakes to submit to the Palestinian National Council for formal approval the necessary changes in regard to the Palestinian Covenant.” 

On the very same day, September 9, 1993, Yitzhak Rabin, then Prime Minister of Israel, issued his own letter which stated the following, in its entirety: 

“In response to your letter of September 9, 1993, I wish to confirm to you that, in light of the PLO commitments included in your letter, the Government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process.” 

Note two very important issues here, 1) the entity Israel recognized is the PLO (an organization composed of many different factions representing the full political and ideological spectrum), not Fatah, not Hamas and not the Palestinian Authority, which, by the way, is a product of the Oslo agreement itself and has no negotiating mandate, and 2) the PLO not only recognized Israel as other states did, as simply a member state of the United Nations, but went even further to state its “right…to exist in peace and security.” No country on earth has formally recognized Israel in such a comprehensive manner. 

So all the rumpus about Fatah and Hamas reconciling their internal differences and all the immediate punishing of Palestinians by Israel for this reconciliation raises some key concerns. First and foremost, what does Israel want? Does it want a Palestinian partner who can actually reflect a representative political system with the potential to reach and then implement a peace agreement? 

Likewise, what are all the old-new demands that Hamas must recognize Israel? Hamas does not recognize Israel anymore than Israel’s current foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party represents the State of Israel. What difference is there between the far right coalition in Israel and the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas? 

The fact of the matter is that anyone observing the agonizing details of this conflict over the past six decades can only deduce one main thing: Israel has no intention to reach a lasting peace with Palestinians. Furthermore, in order to maintain the international community’s commitment to underwriting Israel’s continuing military occupation, Israel has perfected the sadistic game of maintaining a never-ending peace process, one that only gives it more time to create additional facts on the ground (such as settlements) which may be jeopardizing the entire two-state framework as a solution. 

Ordinary Israelis are afraid to put down their guns and make peace because the scenarios seem too vulnerable and uncertain. Instead of calming these fears by forging good, new, functional partnerships with Palestinians as equals, the current Israeli government intensifies these fears with the same tired old angry rhetoric about terrorism and the culture, religion, and aspirations of their neighbors. 

The missing voices in the debate are many, but a key voice that has yet to be heard is that of the world Jewry. After all, Israel is acting, or so it believes, in the best interest of Jews worldwide. It is hard for me to believe that continued settlement building, continued economic strangulation, continued collective punishment, continued denying of Palestinians from reaching their holy sites, including the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and other forms of repression of another people are in the interest of the world Jewry. However, until we hear loud and clear from Jewish communities around the globe that these acts of Israel are not being done in their name, we can only assume that Israel is drunk on its own arrogance and narcissism because of the unfettered support that it receives from the world Jewry, and this realization, if true, would be sadder than the lack of a peace agreement. 

Sam Bahour is a Palestinian-American business development consultant from Youngstown, Ohio living in the Palestinian City of Al-Bireh in the West Bank. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994) and may be reached at


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

[ePalestine] NYT: The Long Overdue Palestinian State (By MAHMOUD ABBAS)

New York Times  - May 16, 2011 

The Long Overdue Palestinian State 
Ramallah, West Bank 

SIXTY-THREE years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria. He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child’s story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine. 

This month, however, as we commemorate another year of our expulsion — which we call the nakba, or catastrophe — the Palestinian people have cause for hope: this September, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will request international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and that our state be admitted as a full member of the United Nations. 

Many are questioning what value there is to such recognition while the Israeli occupation continues. Others have accused us of imperiling the peace process. We believe, however, that there is tremendous value for all Palestinians — those living in the homeland, in exile and under occupation. 

It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued. Indeed, it was the descendants of these expelled Palestinians who were shot and wounded by Israeli forces on Sunday as they tried to symbolically exercise their right to return to their families’ homes. 

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled. 

Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice. 

Our quest for recognition as a state should not be seen as a stunt; too many of our men and women have been lost for us to engage in such political theater. We go to the United Nations now to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 percent of our historic homeland because we have been negotiating with the State of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realizing a state of our own. We cannot wait indefinitely while Israel continues to send more settlers to the occupied West Bank and denies Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places, particularly in Jerusalem. Neither political pressure nor promises of rewards by the United States have stopped Israel’s settlement program. 

Negotiations remain our first option, but due to their failure we are now compelled to turn to the international community to assist us in preserving the opportunity for a peaceful and just end to the conflict. Palestinian national unity is a key step in this regard. Contrary to what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel asserts, and can be expected to repeat this week during his visit to Washington, the choice is not between Palestinian unity or peace with Israel; it is between a two-state solution or settlement-colonies. 

Despite Israel’s attempt to deny us our long-awaited membership in the community of nations, we have met all prerequisites to statehood listed in the Montevideo Convention, the 1933 treaty that sets out the rights and duties of states. The permanent population of our land is the Palestinian people, whose right to self- determination has been repeatedly recognized by the United Nations, and by the International Court of Justice in 2004. Our territory is recognized as the lands framed by the 1967 border, though it is occupied by Israel. 

We have the capacity to enter into relations with other states and have embassies and missions in more than 100 countries. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have indicated that our institutions are developed to the level where we are now prepared for statehood. Only the occupation of our land hinders us from reaching our full national potential; it does not impede United Nations recognition. 

The State of Palestine intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter. Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948. 

Palestine would be negotiating from the position of one United Nations member whose territory is militarily occupied by another, however, and not as a vanquished people ready to accept whatever terms are put in front of us. 

We call on all friendly, peace-loving nations to join us in realizing our national aspirations by recognizing the State of Palestine on the 1967 border and by supporting its admission to the United Nations. Only if the international community keeps the promise it made to us six decades ago, and ensures that a just resolution for Palestinian refugees is put into effect, can there be a future of hope and dignity for our people. 

Mahmoud Abbas is the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the president of the Palestinian National Authority. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Monday, May 16, 2011

[ePalestine] B'Tselem: Dispossession & Exploitation: Israel's policy in the Jordan Valley & northern Dead Sea

B'Tselem - NEW REPORT 

Dispossession & Exploitation: Israel's policy in the Jordan Valley & northern Dead Sea 

Comprehensive Report, May 2011 

Download the report: PDF



New report exposes scope of Israel’s economic exploitation of Jordan Valley 

•ᾉ77.5 percent of area is closed to Palestinians 

•ᾉThe area’s 9,400 settlers enjoy water allocation equal to almost 1/3 of the consumption of the entire West Bank Palestinian population 

Israel has instituted a regime that massively exploits the resources of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea, far more than elsewhere in the West Bank, demonstrating its intention: to de facto annex the area to the State of Israel. These are the findings of a report published today (12 May 2011) by Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem. 

The combined area of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea is the largest land reserve in the West Bank. The area spans 1.6 million dunams, constituting 28.8 percent of the West Bank. It is home to 65,000 Palestinians living in 29 communities, and another estimated 15,000 Palestinians living in dozens of small Bedouin communities. Some 9,400 Israelis live in 37 settlements (including seven outposts) established in the area. 

The report reviews the various measures that Israel has used to gain control of 77.5% of lands in the area, closing them off to Palestinians. These include declaring large swaths of land as state land, military firing zones or nature reserves. In the last two years, the Civil Administration has repeatedly demolished structures in Bedouin communities located in the closed-off areas, even though some were established before 1967. Thousands of additional dunams were taken from Palestinian refugees. Municipal boundaries of settlements cordon off twelve percent of the area, including the entire northern shore of the Dead Sea. 

The report details how Israel has taken over most of the water sources in the area, allocating almost all derived water to settlements: 9,400 settlers are allocated 45 million m3 water a year from drillings, from the Jordan River, from treated wastewater, and from artificial water reservoirs. This is almost one-third the quantity of water accessible to the 2.5 million Palestinians living throughout the West Bank. This generous water supply has enabled settlements to develop intensive-farming methods and to work the land all year round, with most of the produce being exported. 

Israel’s control of the water sources in the area has reduced the quantity of water available to Palestinians. In 2008, Palestinians pumped 31 million m3 of water in the area – 44 percent less than the amount pumped prior to the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement of 1995. Due to the water shortage, Palestinians have been forced to neglect farmland that used to be cultivated and to switch to growing less profitable crops. 

Israel’s control of most of the land also prevents equal distribution of water between Palestinian communities in the area, and transferal of water to Palestinian communities outside the area. Bedouin communities in the area have so little water that their consumption matches the UN standard of the minimal quantity needed to survive in humanitarian-disaster areas. 

Israel has taken over most of the prominent tourist sites in the area – the northern shore of the Dead Sea, Wadi Qelt, the Qumran caves, the springs of the ‘Ein Fashkha reserve, and the Qasr Alyahud site. Additionally, the state allows private Israeli businesses to profit from mineral extraction and tourism along the Dead Sea shores. Israel has also built facilities in the Jordan Valley for treating wastewater and for burying waste from Israel and from settlements. 

In light of the illegality of the settlements, and given the severe, ongoing harm that the settlements in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area have caused to Palestinians living there, B'Tselem calls on Israel to evacuate these settlements in an orderly manner that respects the settlers’ rights, including payment of compensation. In addition, in accordance with the prohibitions in international law against exploitation of the natural resources of occupied territory, Israel must enable Palestinians to access all areas currently closed to them, permit Palestinians to use the water sources there, cancel the restrictions on Palestinian movement in the area, and allow building and development in the Palestinian communities. 

B'Tselem provided a copy of the report for response to the Ministry of Justice. According to an agreement with the MoJ, it coordinates relevant authorities’ responses to B’Tselem reports. In spite of this agreement, the Ministry indicated that, “since the report deals primarily with political questions, and not purely legal matters”, it does not consider it proper to respond. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

[ePalestine] Israeli Justice Ministry admits it covertly canceled residency status of 140,000 Palestinians

Published 02:47 11.05.11 

Justice Ministry admits it covertly canceled residency status of 140,000 Palestinians 

Justice Ministry document reveals that between 1967 and 1994 many Palestinians traveling abroad were stripped of residency status, allegedly without warning. 

By Akiva Eldar 

Israel has used a covert procedure to cancel the residency status of 140,000 West Bank Palestinians between 1967 and 1994, the Justice Ministry admits in a new document obtained by Haaretz. The document was written by the ministry's Judea and Samaria office after the Center for the Defense of the Individual filed a request under the Freedom of Information Law. 

The document states that the procedure was used on Palestinian residents of the West Bank who traveled abroad between 1967 and 1994. From the occupation of the West Bank until the signing of the Oslo Accords, Palestinians who wished to travel abroad via Jordan were ordered to leave their ID cards at the Allenby Bridge border crossing. 

They exchanged their ID cards for a card allowing them to cross. The card was valid for three years and could be renewed three times, each time adding another year. 

If a Palestinian did not return within six months of the card's expiration, thier documents would be sent to the regional census supervisor. Residents who failed to return on time were registered as NLRs - no longer residents. The Justice Ministry document makes no mention of any warning or information that the Palestinians received about the process. 

Palestinians could still return in the first six months after their cards expired, or appeal to an exemptions committee. 

The Center for the Defense of the Individual said yesterday it knew that a clear procedure was in place, but the details and the number of Palestinians denied their right to return remained classified. A former head of the Civil Administration in the 1990s was surprised to hear of the procedure when contacted by Haaretz. 

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. (res. ) Danny Rothschild, who served as coordinator of government activities in the territories from 1991 to 1995, said he was completely unaware of the procedure, even though it was in use during his term. "If even I wasn't told of the procedure, one may infer that neither were residents of the occupied territories," he said. 

The Central Bureau of Statistics says the West Bank's Palestinian population amounted to 1.05 million in 1994, which means the population would have been greater by about 14 percent if it weren't for the procedure. 

By contrast, Palestinians who immigrated from the West Bank after the Palestinian Authority was set up retained residency rights even if they did not return for years. 

Today, a similar procedure is still in place for residents of East Jerusalem who hold Israeli ID cards; they lose their right to return if they have been abroad for seven years. 

Palestinians who found themselves "no longer residents" include students who graduated from foreign universities, businessmen and laborers who left for work in the Gulf. Over the years, many of them have started families, so the number of these Palestinians and their descendants is probably in the hundreds of thousands, even if some have died. 

Also, several thousands Palestinians with close links to the Palestinian Authority were allowed to return over the years, as did a number of Palestinians whose cases were upheld by the joint committee for restoration of Palestinian ID cards. As of today, 130,000 Palestinians are listed as "no longer residents." 

Among them is the brother of the Palestinians' former chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat. Erekat's brother left for studies in the United States and was not allowed to come back; he still lives in California. 

Erekat told Haaretz he had learned from his brother's experience, and when he himself left for studies abroad, he made sure to visit home from time to time so as not to lose his right to return. 

The regulation's existence was discovered by the Center for the Defense of the Individual by pure chance, while it was looking into the case of a West Bank resident imprisoned in Israel. 

The Civil Administration told the prisoner's family his ID card was "inactive." After a request for a clarification, Israel's legal adviser for Judea and Samaria said this was a misapplication of a certain policy by the census supervisor in the occupied territories. 

The adviser added that three residents were mistakenly defined as no longer residents while in prison or in detention, and that their residency had now been restored. He wrote that their status had been changed not because of a policy but because of a technical error, without any connection to their imprisonment. 

The Center for the Defense of the Individual said that "mass withdrawal of residency rights from tens of thousands of West Bank residents, tantamount to permanent exile from their homeland, remains an illegitimate demographic policy and a grave violation of international law." 

It noted that an unknown number of Gaza residents had lost residency rights in a similar manner, but that the exact number was still a secret the center vowed to uncover. "The State of Israel should fix the ongoing wrong at once, restore residency rights to all affected Palestinians and allow them and their families to return to their               
homeland," the center said.


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

[ePalestine] Ha'aretz: The legal tsunami is on its way (By Michael Sfard)

Ha'aretz  - Published 03:32 29.04.11 

The legal tsunami is on its way 

The significance of a Palestinian state joining the UN is that, for the first time, it will be the Palestinians who will decide what the international legal framework is that is binding in their territory. 

By Michael Sfard 

Israel’s cautious foreign policy on legal matters over the past 44 years is likely to collapse in September. The mechanisms of legal defense that it built since the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to combat the “danger” of international jurisdiction about its conduct toward millions of people who are under its control, are likely to turn into dust at the stroke of the diplomatic moves. 

If indeed the international community recognizes a Palestinian state, the question whether officers in the Israel Defense Forces who are involved in assassinations, shooting at unarmed demonstrators and using phosphorus bombs will be interrogated and brought to trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the question of whether international human rights treaties ?(and other treaties?) will obligate Israel during action in the territories, will no longer be decided in the government offices in Jerusalem but rather in the corridors of the Muqataa in Ramallah. 

Together with the diplomatic “tsunami” that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has forecast, Israel can expect a legal tsunami, which for the first time will claim a price for violating human rights in the occupied territories. 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territories that Israel conquered in 1967, are not an internal Israeli issue. This is an international conflict in which the international community has a legitimate interest. 

However, during the years of the occupation the state of Israel has repelled the professional legal mechanisms of the United Nations, that deal with protecting human rights, from discussing its actions there. Thus, for example, Israel refrained from granting authority to the UN Committee on Human Rights to discuss complaints from Palestinians against the IDF. ? 

(The committee is a professional body that consists of world renowned experts in human rights law, as opposed to the Council on Human Rights, which is a political body composed of representatives of countries.?) 

In a similar vein, in the territories Israel refused to apply the various human rights treaties that deal, inter alia, with discrimination against women; rights of the child; racial and other discrimination; and torture. Some of Israel’s most talented advocates were sent to Geneva to claim that these treaties were not binding on Israel beyond the Green Line. 

Israel considers itself the representative of the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and as such was one of the initiators of the establishment of an international criminal court for war crimes. The height of jurisdictional isolation came when Israel decided not to ratify the court’s statute so as not to grant it authority to investigate and discuss crimes that, allegedly, were/are being carried out by Israeli officers and soldiers. 

Over the course of 44 years, Israel has succeeded in putting the job of judging its actions in the occupied territories in the hands of the High Court of Justice, which approved almost every policy and practice of the army in the territories, deepening the occupation and making possible massive violations of human rights under its patronage. 

Israel succeeded in leaving the investigations of its crimes to military advocates/attorneys who made sure that the policy of investigation would be such that enforcing the rigor of the law on soldiers and officers who had violated it would be a sort of miracle. 

All of this is about to come to an end. Judging Israel’s actions in the sphere of human rights is apparently about to be placed in the hands of the nations of the world. To become internationalized. 

If indeed Palestine is accepted as a full member of the UN in September, the button controlling jurisdiction over events that will take place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will, to a large extent, be transferred from Jerusalem to Ramallah, from Benjamin Netanyahu to Mahmoud Abbas ? because the significance of accepting Palestine as a member of the UN is that the new member will be sovereign to sign international treaties, to join international agreements and to receive the jurisdictional authority of international tribunals over what happens in its territory. 

The young state of Palestine will act wisely if it decides, immediately on joining the UN, to sign all the major human rights treaties and all the clauses or protocols that grant its professional bodies the authority to discuss claims by civilians of violation of their rights. 

If the Palestinian government also decides to sign and ratify the international criminal court’s Rome Statute, the territories of the West Bank and Gaza will fall under the international tribunal’s authority to investigate and prosecute. 

The significance of a Palestinian state joining the UN is that, for the first time, it will be the Palestinians who will decide what the international legal framework is that is binding in their territory. After more than 40 years in the wilderness of the occupation, the Palestinians will have the possibility of influencing their fate through legal means. 

Attorney Michael Sfard is the legal adviser for the Yesh Din human rights organization. 


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to:

Sunday, May 01, 2011

[ePalestine] Forty Shades of Grey (Israel/Palestine) - Sam Bahour clip

Forty Shades of Grey (Israel/Palestine)


Surprising revelations as Sam Bahour describes America’s powerful pro-Israeli lobby and Israel’s ability to influence U.S. strategic interests  

May 1, 2011 8:01pm  

Length: 2:24


ePalestine Blog:


Everything about this list:

To unsubscribe, send mail to:

To subscribe, send mail to: