Condemn, don’t celebrate, 50 years of occupation of Palestine

Barbara Olson, The Cap Times, Jun 11, 2017


Palestinian workers wait to cross the Israeli checkpoint of Al-Jalameh, south of the West Bank city of Jenin, on their way to work in Israel May 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

June 2017 marks 50 years of Israeli military occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. In 1967, in open defiance of international law prohibiting acquisition of territory by force, Israel began settling its own Jewish population on occupied Palestinian land, seizing large swathes of the most valuable, fertile and resource-rich areas.

For 50 years this dispossession has been enforced by a violent regime of military occupation, a regime that has expanded and deepened until many argue that it now meets or exceeds the legal definition of apartheid — a system of laws, institutions and practices that treat people differently based on race, ethnicity, nationality or religion.

For the last 70 years, Israel has also denied millions of Palestinian refugees their right under international law to return to the homes and properties from which they were ethnically cleansed from 1947 onward. In contrast, Israel’s “Law of Return” gives automatic citizenship rights to any Jewish person from anywhere in the world.

Those Palestinians who refused to flee after the Israeli state was declared in 1948 spent years living under martial law before gaining Israeli citizenship. Now making up at least 20 percent of Israel’s population, they face dozens of discriminatory laws that privilege Israeli Jews.

A special mention must be made of Gaza. While Israeli soldiers and settlements were withdrawn in 2005, Israel exercises “effective control” over Gaza’s borders, coastal waters and airspace, making it the occupying power under international law. For 10 years it has enforced a suffocating and deadly blockade of Gaza, condemned by the UN as an inhumane act of collective punishment of nearly 2 million civilians, half of them children. Devastating Israeli military assaults in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 killed thousands of civilians and deliberately destroyed Gaza’s civilian infrastructure.

U.S. political, military and financial support makes this possible. Republican and Democratic administrations have given lip service to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, calling the settlements and occupation “obstacles to peace.” In reality, they envision not two equal states side by side, but disconnected, fragmented and nonviable “Bantustans” for Palestinians under permanent Israeli control.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is underwriting Israel’s abuses of Palestinians and the massive expansion of the Jewish-only settlements that long ago killed the possibility for any two-state solution. U.S. taxpayers already give Israel more than $3 billion in weapons like F-16 (and now F-35) fighter jets, Apache helicopter gunships, Caterpillar bulldozers, the Iron Dome, and more each year. This was before President Obama agreed to give Israel another $38 billion in weapons over the next decade. And before the election of Donald Trump, who has enthusiastically aligned himself with Netanyahu and the most racist and militaristic elements of Israeli society.

Continue reading

BREAKING: Trump Signs Waiver, But Senate Wants Embassy in Jerusalem

Josh Ruebner, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 1 June 2017

Breaking news: Donald Trump has backed off one of his major campaign pledges and signed a waiver to the Jerusalem Embassy Act to keep the US Embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv for another six months.

For the time being, Trump is upholding a long-standing, bipartisan policy of not recognizing any nation’s claims to sovereignty in Jerusalem.

While Trump has realized that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem at this point would be a mistake, the Senate has other ideas.

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced S.Res.176, a resolution commemorating the 50th anniversary of what it terms Israel’s “reunification of Jerusalem.” And he’ll be bringing it up for a vote next Monday, June 5.

Click here to find out if your Senators have sponsored this legislation and contact them to register your opposition.

Not only does S.Res.176 call on the president to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. It also celebrates the fact that Israel has held East Jerusalem under military occupation for the past half-century and ignores Israel’s violations of international law—its construction of settlements and a wall, its expropriation of Palestinian property and demolition of Palestinian homes—there.

It makes patently false claims that all people enjoy freedom of worship in Jerusalem under Israeli administration when Palestinians from other parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip do not have the ability to pray at their holy sites in Jerusalem without a permit, which is often difficult or nearly impossible to obtain.

The resolution also fails to mention the separate-and-unequal status that Palestinian Jerusalemites face under Israel’s regime. Even though Israel annexed East Jerusalem, a move which even the United States refuses to recognize, Palestinian residents are not citizens of Israel and can’t vote for its parliament. Israel often regularly revokes Palestinians’ residency rights in the city as part of a plan to engineer a favorable demographic balance. And Palestinians face systematic discrimination from the municipality in the allocation of building permits and funds for schools, health care, sanitation and other services.

Click here to contact your Senators about this resolution (and your Representative about a similar one in the House which may also come up for a vote next week).

Continue reading

Israeli police kill 16-year old Palestinian girl in Jerusalem

International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC) News, May 8, 2017

Updated: On Sunday afternoon, Israeli police shot and killed a 16-year old Palestinian girl near the Damascus gate in Jerusalem.

Although the Israeli police spokesperson claimed that the teen attempted to stab a security officer, that account has been disputed.

The child has been identified as Fatima Afeef Abdul-Rahman Hajiji, 16, from Qarawat Bani Zeid village, northwest of Ramallah, in the central part of the West Bank.

Eyewitnesses said Fatima was standing near the entrance of Bab al-‘Amoud (Damascus Gate), and was at least ten meters away from the near soldier or officer, and that one of the soldiers started shouting “knife, knife,” before five soldiers fired a barrage of bullets at the child.

Fatima killed (Ma'an image)They added that the Fatima was first shot with several live rounds in the chest, and the soldiers continued to fire at her after she fell onto the ground.

Many live rounds also struck a Palestinian Taxi, parked nearby, causing damage and puncturing one of its tires.

Photos of the deceased show that she was shot and killed at quite a distance from the guard post, so even if she had been holding a knife (which is disputed), no security officers were in danger at the time when she was killed.

Following the fatal shooting of the child, the soldiers used pepper-spray against dozens of Palestinians who gathered in the area, especially close to Fatima.

In addition, the soldiers assaulted many Palestinians, including children, in Sultan Suleiman Street, causing a child, identified as Mahmoud Abu Sbeih, 9, to fall from a high altitude after mounted officer chased him and many other Palestinians.

Hundreds of soldiers and mounted police officers were deployed in the area, closed many roads and alleys, and forced the Palestinians away.

Continue reading

Israeli Soldiers Execute Palestinian Girl in Occupied Jerusalem

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), May 8, 2017

As part of the Israeli policy to use excessive and lethal force against Palestinian civilians, who are suspected by Israeli soldiers of intending to carry out stab attacks against the soldiers, on Sunday, 07 May 2017, Israeli forces killed a girl at the southern entrance to the Damascus Gate “al-‘Amoud” in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns this heinous crime. PCHR stresses this crime was committed after the Israeli political and military leaders gave the Israeli soldiers the green light to shed the Palestinian blood in light of the international community’s policy to tolerate Israel for crimes committed by the Israeli soldiers against Palestinian civilians.

According to PCHR’s investigations and testimonies by eyewitnesses to PCHR’s fieldworker in occupied Jerusalem, at approximately 19:00 on the abovementioned day, Fatmah ‘Afif ‘Abdel Rahman Hjeiji (16), from Qarawet Bani Zaid village, northwest of Ramallah, was walking 10 meters away from a police checkpoint, which is permanently established at the southern entrance to the Damascus Gate. One of the soldiers suddenly screamed out, “knife”. Immediately, the Israeli soldiers stationed there opened fire at the girl. As a result, 30 live bullets hit her body; some of them penetrated her chest and waist from the right side. Therefore, Fatmah was killed on the spot. Eyewitnesses emphasized that after the girl fell on the ground, the Israeli soldiers continued shooting at her and not only attempting to wound or arrest her.

Following this, the Israeli police deployed in the area closed the scene and prevented anyone from approaching the girl, whose body had been on the ground for an hour. The police officers attacked and pushed dozens of civilians away. They chased Mahmoud Abu Sbeih (9) until he fell from height in the Damascus Gate area and was then taken to the hospital to receive medical treatment.

Luba al-Samri, the Israeli police spokesperson, published a statement claiming that “According to the preliminary information available, it was an attempt to a stab attack carried out by a girl that was neutralized without injuries among the police officers.”

PCHR condemns this crime that resulted in the killing of Hjeiji on grounds of suspicion of a stab attack, and:

    1. Calls upon the United Nations to offer international protection to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and to guarantee that protection;

    2. Calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to ensure that Israel commit to the application of Geneva Conventions in the oPt as a State Party to those conventions;

    3. Demands the states signing the Geneva conventions to fulfill their obligations to guarantee the application of the conventions by resorting to the principle of Universal Jurisdiction to prosecute the war criminals regardless of their nationality or place of the crime to pave the way for prosecuting the Israeli war criminals and stop the impunity they enjoy for decades; and

    Continue reading

Diana Buttu & Gideon Levy on Israeli Settlements, Kerry, Military Aid & End of Two-State Solution

Democracy Now! December 30, 2016

Guests
Diana Buttu — attorney based in Palestine. She has served as a legal adviser to the Palestinians in negotiations with Israel. She was previously an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Gideon Levy — Haaretz columnist and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. His new article is titled "UN Resolution is a Breath of Hope in Sea of Darkness and Despair." Levy is also the author of The Punishment of Gaza.

Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted Israel’s government, saying in a major address on Wednesday that the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threatens Israel’s democracy and has all but ended the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians. "If the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or Democratic; it cannot be both," Kerry said. "And it won’t ever really be at peace." Kerry’s speech followed intense Israeli criticism of the U.S. for refusing to veto a Security Council resolution last week. The measure condemns Israel’s expansion of settlements as a flagrant violation of international law. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote. The U.S. abstained. We speak to Palestinian attorney Diana Buttu and Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, a Haaretz columnist.


TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Secretary of State John Kerry has blasted Israel’s government, saying in a major address Wednesday that the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank threatens Israel’s democracy and has all but ended the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Despite our best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy. The truth is that trends on the ground—violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation—they are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.

Continue reading

Kerry harshly condemns Israeli settler activity as an obstacle to peace

Secretary of State John F. Kerry speaks about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the U.S. decision to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settler activity in the West Bank. (Andrew Harnik-Associated Press)

Carol Morello, The Washington Post, December 28, 2016

Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Wednesday offered a harsh and detailed assessment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying their growth threatens to destroy the viability of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the United States was obliged to allow passage of a U.N. resolution condemning the activity in order to preserve the possibility of peace.

Kerry noted that the number of Israelis living in settlements has grown significantly and that their outposts are extending farther into the West Bank — “in the middle of what by any reasonable definition would be the future Palestinian state.”

“No one thinking seriously about peace can ignore the reality of the threat settlements pose to peace,” he said.

Kerry, in the hour-long speech delivered at the State Department, also condemned Palestinian incitement to violence as a barrier to direct negotiations. But his focus was on defending the Obama administration’s policies and highlighting Israel’s actions at a moment of high tension between the two governments, following the passage of the U.N. resolution.

U.S. Department of State

“Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles — even after urging again and again that the policy must change,” he said. “Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.”

Continue reading

Rosary Sisters Catholic High School in Jerusalem, Palestine

Dabka dance to “My Blood is Palestinian”. Enjoy.

Shahir Hunaina, YouTube, November 16, 2016

My Blood is Palestinian (Dammi Falastini), translation by Sara Ba

Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
We stood for you, our homeland
With our pride and Arabisim
Al-Quds land called us
(As) The sound of my mother calling me
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
O mother don’t worry
Your homeland is a fortified castle
Which I sacrifice my soul for
And my blood, and my veins
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
I’m Palestinian, a son of a free family
I’m brave and my head is always up
I’m keeping my oath to you my homeland
And I have never bowed to anyone
Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian
 
Keeping my oath, following my religion
You will find me on my land
I belong to my people, I sacrifice my soul for them
My blood is Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian
My blood is Palestinian

October 11, 2016
Online Panel: Against Israel’s Colonial Tide

Tuesday, October 11
12 noon – 1 pm Central

Listen live at http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/livestream

Online panel discussion presented by the Palestine Center in DC:
Against Israel’s Colonial Tide: Palestinian Initiatives to Shape Their Future
with

    Nur Arafeh, Policy Fellow, Al-Shabaka
    Tareq G. Baconi, Policy Fellow, Al-Shabaka
    Nadia Hijab, Executive Director, Al-Shabaka

This panel examines the intersection of Israeli policies of occupation and containment which prevent Palestinian self-determination, with a focus on the experience for Palestinians of living under occupation in Jerusalem and Gaza and the ways Palestinians and their supporters are organizing politically, economically and culturally to protect their human rights and work towards a different future.

The panelists are all contributors to Al Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. Policy Fellow Nur Arafeh will examine Israel’s plans for Jerusalem and its “vision” for the city by mid-century, as well as the ways in which Jerusalemites are organizing and the support they need. This will be followed by Policy Fellow Tareq Baconi, who will address Israel’s siege of Gaza, the predicament of Hamas, and the role of regional actors, and also suggest ways forward. Executive Director Nadia Hijab will then discuss Israel’s measures against the occupied territories and the Palestinian citizens of Israel, including its draconian attacks on human rights defenders, and examine counter-measures by the Palestinian and international actors.

For more info see: http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/events/upcoming/israels-colonial-tide-palestinian-initiatives-shape-future