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September 13, 2018

House Democrats Condemn Trump Administration’s Actions Harming the Palestinian People

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), and Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) today released the following statement condemning the Trump Administration’s recent actions harming the Palestinian people.

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24th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege of the Gaza Strip

Israeli Forces Kill 1 Child and Wound 137 Civilians, including 26 Children, 4 Paramedics and 1 Journalist

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), September 7, 2018, Ref: 97/2018

On Friday afternoon, 07 September 2018, using excessive force against the peaceful protesters in the eastern Gaza Strip for the 24th Friday in a row, Israeli forces Killed a child and wounded 137 civilians, including 26 children, 4 paramedics and 1 journalist with live bullets and directly hit tear gas canisters. Nine of those wounded sustained serious wounds in addition to dozens of civilians suffering tear gas inhalation. Moreover, Today early morning, a young man succumbed to serious wounds he sustained during his participation in the Return Demonstration in the northern Gaza Strip on 13 July 2018.

According to PCHR fieldworkers’ observations, the border area witnessed heavy deployment of the Israeli forces this week as the latter heavily fired live bullets and tear gas canisters, increasing the number of causalities comparing with the previous weeks, despite the peaceful nature prevailing the demonstrations.

The Israeli forces continued to use upon highest military and political echelons excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators who posed no threat or danger to the life of Israeli soldiers in the areas of demonstrations.

Table of Civilian Casualties due to the Israeli Suppression since the Beginning of the Great March of Return on 30 March

Casualties Medical Crews Journalists Women Children Total Notes
Killed 3 2 1 24 132 [1]
Wounded 109 80 206 1208 7042 [2]

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Sep 11, 2018
United Nations Association Lecture on Palestine

Madison Central Library
201 W Mifflin St
7:00 pm, 3rd Floor

Since 2006 the speaker has been spending from one to three months per year accompanying Palestinian children to school past Israeli settler checkpoints in the village of Tuwani and the surrounding South Hebron Hills of the West Bank. She initially volunteered with Christian Peacemaking Teams, but more recently has served with the Italian organization Operation Dove, both of which began their work in Tuwani at the invitation of the village and in response to Israeli settler attacks on schoolchildren and shepherds. She will speak about her experiences and current developments in Palestine.

More information: UNA Public Lecture — Conflict in Palestine

Sep 27-28: Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) National Conference

You are invited to FOSNA’s national meeting in Minneapolis: Prophetic Action. This event is on track to be one of the largest ecumenical gatherings of Christian leaders and activists for Palestinian rights. Participants will discuss liberative theologies across faiths, celebrate growing church wins, and reflect on the impact of their activism!

Along with keynote speaker, Reverend Traci Blackmon, participants will hear from other faith leaders and Palestinian organizers throughout the convening, including Reverend Jim Bear Jacobs from the Racial Justice at Minnesota Council of Churches, Lara Kiswani from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Omar Haramy from Sabeel Jerusalem, and Sandra Tamari from the Adalah Justice Project. Schedule and full program, including link to register.

Sep 28-30: U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights National Conference in Minneapolis

Together We Rise will be a space for people to connect with and learn from others working in support of Palestinian rights across the country, and renew our commitment to the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality.

The program includes sessions such as Resilience Across Movements, Updates from Palestine, Intersectional Feminism and Gender Justice, Palestine in US Politics, and Global Struggles for Collective Liberation. Confirmed speakers include journalists Mariam Barghouti and Marc Lamont Hill, human rights lawyers Noura Erakat and Hassan Jabareen, and indigenous rights activists Waziyatawin and Coya White Hat-Artichoker.

Dozens of workshops will teach us about the militarization of the US/Mexico border, how to harness constituent power to make change in Congress, hold a direct action, and more.

There will be plenty of opportunities to connect, network, and learn, making our conference a great event for everyone, from those just learning about Palestine to seasoned organizers!

More information and/or to register

UNRWA Crisis: Beyond Dollars and Cents

Zaha Hassan, Palestine Square | Institute for Palestine Studies, August 3, 2018

“Continuing services to refugees is a right, not a handout.”

This was the message last week of one of the thousands in Gaza who came out to protest the UN Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) decision to not renew 154 employment contracts in the occupied Palestinian territory. Despite UNRWA’s best efforts, it has not been able to make up its current $250 million budget shortfall resulting from the U.S. decision to slash its contributions to the refugee agency.

Almost 12,500 Palestinians in Gaza are dependent on an UNRWA paycheck, which in many cases helps sustain more than just the nuclear family in the enclave where the unemployment rate is over 40%. It is unclear whether there will be enough funding for the 262,000 children in Gaza’s UNRWA schools to return to their classrooms this academic year.

The existential threat facing UNRWA is deliberate, and so are the dire consequences for the 5.3 million registered refugees it serves. President Donald Trump and his Middle East Team headed by advisor, Jared Kushner, have latched onto the idea that humanitarian relief may be used as leverage to force the Palestinian leadership back to a negotiating table set by Israel. Leaked details of the Kushner-crafted peace plan indicate that it is nothing more than a souped up, donor-infused version of the status quo that Israel seeks to have legitimated with the signature of President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian leader has infuriated the Administration by refusing to engage with it on these terms and so the Administration—along with the Republican-controlled Congress—has been tightening the financial noose around Palestinians.

[From the Journal of Palestine Studies | UNRWA and the Refugees: A Difficult but Lasting Marriage]

The idea of weaponizing humanitarian assistance provided to Palestinians is not new but it has never before found the currency it now has in the White House. Of late, right-wing think tanks, pro-“Greater Israel” Washington lobby groups and the “no daylight between Israel and the U.S.” politicians have been peddling the fiction that humanitarian relief to Palestinian refugees has been growing by leaps and bonds. They argue that aid money that maintains the camp infrastructure and enables the provision of essential services and work opportunities perpetuates refugeehood.

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A Vengeful and Shortsighted Act

Palestinians waiting to cross the border to Egypt in May. (Adel Hana/Associated Press)

New York Times Editorial, September 1, 2018

The Trump administration has offered various explanations for cutting aid to the Palestinians and stopping all contributions to the United Nations agency that supports five million Palestinian refugees: They need to learn to help themselves. Other Arabs should pay. Most of them are not really refugees and should stop claiming a right to return to what is now Israel. This will push them to the negotiating table. They’re not grateful enough.

These excuses range from petty to downright dangerous. Does Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, who is supposed to be preparing an Israeli-Palestinian “deal of the century,” really believe that slashing assistance to the Palestinians and stripping them of their status as refugees will compel them to accept whatever one-sided plan he cooks up or teach them to show proper respect for Mr. Trump?

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Wishing away Palestinian refugees: End of US’ UNRWA aid explained

‘Doomsday scenario’ could unfold unless Palestinian agency replaces US funding within 30 days, spokesperson says.

Al Jazeera, 01 Sep 2018

The UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) has called the decision by the Trump administration to no longer commit funding “deeply regrettable” and “shocking”.

Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief Works and Agency, said on Saturday Friday’s move would affect “millions of people” including “some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised on this planet”.

For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has provided lifesaving assistance to more than five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories, as well as Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

But over the past year, the US government has made it increasingly clear it considers the work the organisation does, and who it considers as refugees, to be an obstacle in the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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