Unprecedented Verbal Attack between Palestinian Authority, Hamas

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT AND REUTERS)

Middle East

Unprecedented Verbal Attack between Palestinian Authority, Hamas

Palestine

Ramallah, Gaza – An unprecedented verbal attack has broken out between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas on the eve of a planned meeting between the two sides in Gaza in order to put an end to the Palestinian division.

Hamas Movement said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is leading a fourth aggression on Gaza on behalf of Israeli occupation authorities with his latest decisions on Gaza salary cuts.

Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement, on Saturday, that Abbas is responsible for Gaza siege and isolation as well as the power and water crises other than the lack of health services.

Barhoum also held Abbas responsible for denying workers of their basic rights and suspending allocations of martyrs, the wounded and other needy categories.

This language is different from that spoken by Hamas in the past few days as they welcomed the delegation from the central committee of Fatah movement that is supposed to arrive to Gaza any time before the end of April to hold talks with Hamas movement and other factions.

Notably, Fatah delegation carries with it a specific initiative from Abbas, which calls for dissolving Hamas’s committee it has established earlier to manage Gaza and then carrying out public elections, otherwise the alternative would be to enact more difficult measures against Gaza.

Hamas escalated its speech against President Abbas following the latter’s threats to take unprecedented measures in case Hamas refused the options that will be suggested by the central delegation.

The Palestinian authority government started last month to cut salaries of Gaza employees by 30 to 50%, which sparked a wave of anger among the Fatah leadership in Gaza and their staff before the president threatened to take unspecified further steps.

Abbas warned that he will take “unprecedented steps” to end the political division between his West Bank-based autonomy government and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Abbas told Palestinian diplomats in Bahrain during conference of the ambassadors of Palestine to Arab and Muslim countries: “These days, we are in a dangerous and tough situation that requires decisive steps, and we are to take these decisive steps.”

“Therefore, we are going to take unprecedented steps in the coming days to end the division.”

Gaza’s Energy Authority went on strike on Friday in protest of the unjust measures taken against Palestinians in the besieged strip.

During the protests, several participants carried candles in a message to Abbas and his government that Gaza would never yield to their extortions and threats.

For his part, Mushir al-Masri, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, told demonstrators: “We are not blind to the enemy’s use of tricks including tightening the siege using its cheap tools: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Tightening the siege will blow up in the occupation’s face.”

US Releases $221 Million Fund To Palestine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

US Releases $221 Million Fund to Palestine

USAID

Ramallah – US has announced the release of the $221 million for Palestinians, which President Donald Trump had previously frozen and put under review after former US President Obama had ordered at the “last minute” of his presidency.

US State Department had confirmed that the money will be used for services in the West Bank and will not go directly to the authorities’ treasury.

A Palestinian official told Asharq Al-Awsat that most of this money had been allocated to foreign organizations working within the Palestinian territories.

Speaking during a press briefing on Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters that to his understanding the money had been released, but also said that the issue was still under review.

“220.3 million that was released was for West Bank programs such as water, infrastructure, education, renewable energy, civil society, municipal governance, and the rule of law, as well as Gaza recovery. And a smaller amount was to go directly to Israeli creditors of the Palestinian Authority as well as East Jerusalem hospitals. None of the funding was to go directly to the Palestinian Authority,” explained Toner.

The official stated that these funds were never assigned to the authority and were not a donation from former President Obama.

“We don’t know why Trump decided to freeze them, and then released them,” said the official.

He added that the majority of these funds will be given to international organizations in Palestine. “Most of the money will be given to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for projects within the Palestinian authorities,” according to the official.

The funds included $180 million from USAID, $25 million to support Palestinian hospitals and $45 million to pay for fuel purchased from Israel.

He then explained that the funds were supposed to be given before the end of 2016, but they were delayed until Obama ordered the transfer, few hours before leaving the White House.

On January 20, and just few hours before Trump’s inauguration, Obama informed the congress that he will send the money. The money was frozen after the Congress’ recommendation as a punishment for the authorities’ attempts to join UN organizations and for instigation.

Though it is not legally binding, the White House abode by the Congress’ decision. Hours before Trump’s arrival, former US secretary of state John Kerry informed the Congress of the transfer.

Trump’s administration then announced it had frozen the grant in order to make adjustments to ensure it complies with the new administration’s priorities.

The relations between Trump’s administration and the Palestinian authority are not exactly strong, despite the few meetings made. Major conflict rose when Palestine stated it won’t accept any solution other than the two-state solution, while Trump declared it is not the only solution available.

Palestinians are afraid Trump will transfer the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, warning that this will be an admission that Quds is Israel’s capital, thus ending any US role in the peace process.

Yet, Palestinians are seeking better relations with the US. Chief of Palestinian Intelligence Majid Faraj met with US security officials.

Then, US Director of CIA Mike Pompeo met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. But, till now, no contact has been established at the level of the White House or the State Department.

Fatah Deputy Chief: We Accept A One-State Solution—Where Israel Does Not Exist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASHARQ AL-AWSAT SAUDI NEWSPAPER)

Interviews

Fatah Deputy Chief: We Accept a One-State Solution

Ramallah – Since I met him a few months ago, nothing has changed in Mahmoud el-Aloul’s entourage even though he has been elected the deputy party chief of Fatah, which means he could become leader of the movement in case of any surprises, and consequently president of Palestinian Authority.

On our way to his office for an interview, we were not questioned once and we were received by his office manager who delayed our interview several times due to unorganized appointments. Many members of Fatah believe this is a “creative chaos”.

Before the interview, I asked Aloul about his few security guards. His answer was that he didn’t like the fuss they create and wished he could carry out his duties without any assistants.

The first question was about US President Donald Trump and his numerous statements about Palestine and Israel.

Aloul acknowledged that it’s the question asked by everyone. No one can understand Trump’s policy, which he said is “mysterious and confusing.”

“As soon as he got into office, he created problems with the US and international community including Europe, China, and Japan. His policies are completely different from all his predecessors, so we are faced by a mysterious case. We have to wait and we are doing our best,” Aloul said.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that Fatah is trying to contact the Trump administration and has sent direct messages and via Arab leaders.

He said Fatah advised Trump not to rush into any decision concerning the region. But, regardless of anything, Abbas’ deputy stressed that Fatah holds onto the people’s rights and will defend them.

When asked if the movement received any response to its demands, Aloul said a number of Fatah figures had met with senior officials at the US administration and confirmed that discussions touched on both political and security matters.

Concerning what Trump had stated about moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Aloul said there might be some changes in the president’s stance, but, like the rest of the world, nothing can be predicted.

Trump retracted from the two-state solution, which Aloul is not entirely against given that it protects Palestinians’ rights and grants them freedom, independence and sovereignty.

Whereas, he added, a one state democratic solution has been proposed by Palestinians.

Concerning Trump, Aloul said that negotiations are an inevitable part of any war or conflict in the world and the Palestinian conflict with Israel has been ongoing for years.

The VP said that resistance is legitimate, as Fatah has said in its political declaration that resistance is a right. But, Aloul, didn’t deny that each phase has its own requirements and the current stage requires public resistance.

Such resistance is necessary as long as there are crimes and there is occupation, he said, adding that it should be a way of life for all Palestinians.

When asked about his position of Fatah deputy chief, Aloul said the position has certain authorities in line with the movement’s bylaws. He also mentioned that this post is up to review a year after it was created.

He said his main goal is to move forward with the movement and reconcile with the Palestinian people in order to create a state of unity within the movement itself and between the movement and the society.

He added that choosing him for this position put an end to a number of foreign interventions that had been going on for a long time.

Certain observers expected Marwan al-Barghouti to be chosen for the position of Abbas’ deputy. Aloul expressed his pride in everything Barghouti has done and confirmed that Fatah will continue battling for his freedom. He did however explain that not choosing Barghouti for the post was due to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to perform any executive duties from his prison cell.

He criticized the people trying to create strife out of this issue.

When asked about Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) elections, he said a committee is preparing for the polls but negotiations are ongoing on where they should take place.

Concerning the elections, Aloul explained that the election of a PLO deputy chief is under discussion. However, Hamas announced that the head of council can be the head of authority, to which Aloul said that Hamas has to determine first if it wants to be part of the Palestinian Authority or not.

Aloul said Fatah is a national liberation movement that hasn’t achieved its goals and will remain active until it does.

He also expressed his lack of interest in what Israelis think about his statements.

Finally, the Fatah deputy leader ruled out an Arab Spring in Palestine, saying the people are not against the government, they are all against one enemy: the occupation.

Senator Santorum Tells Journalist Chris Cuomo The Truth About Anti-Semitism: Cuomo Can’t Accept Truth?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Santorum: Anti-Semitism also comes from pro-Palestinian, Muslim community

Santorum: Anti-Semitic acts coming from Muslims 01:49

Story highlights

  • Rick Santorum argued with the CNN anchor over who is responsible for a spate of anti-Semitism
  • 48 Jewish centers were threatened in January

(CNN)Former Sen. Rick Santorum clashed with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo on Tuesday morning over who is responsible for a rash of anti-Semitic acts since Inauguration Day.

“If you look at the fact of the people who are responsible for a lot of this anti-Semitism that we’re seeing, I hate to say it, a lot of it is coming from the pro-Palestinian or Muslim community,” said the former Republican senator and presidential candidate. “So let’s just lay out that fact.”
Cuomo, however, took issue with Santorum’s characterization of the menace, which has taken the form of numerous threats on Jewish Community Centers across the nation.
“I don’t know that that’s a fact, by the way,” Cuomo said. “[Y]ou have white haters historically … who target the Jews in this country.”
“That’s not what’s going on college campuses, Chris, white haters,” replied Santorum. “Let’s say the truth about this.”
In all, 48 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January, according to the Jewish Community Center Association. Most were made in rapid succession on three days: January 9, 18 and 31. A number of JCCs, including Orlando’s, received multiple threats.
On Monday, another wave of bomb threats hit 11 JCCs across the country, bringing the total to 69 incidents targeting 54 JCCs in 27 states, according to the JCCA.
Trump has faced calls from Democrats and Jewish leaders urging him to speak out against the rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
On Tuesday, while speaking at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, he said, “This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms. The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”
In a separate interview with MSNBC he said, “I will tell you anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop and it has to stop.”
Also on Monday, Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism, tweeted: “America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC”.
She was the first member of the Trump family to comment on the bomb threats.
Later in the conversation with Santorum, Cuomo asked why the Trump administration wasn’t doing more to directly address the threats, which have shaken much of the nation’s Jewish community.
“You guys have no problem going after Muslims for things they don’t do, let alone what they do. So why doesn’t Trump go after the Muslims who are doing this on college campuses against the Jews?” he asked.
“I am for him doing that,” Santorum said. “I think he should.”

The Land: Israel And The Palestinians: And The U.S. And The Native Indians

 

Most people in the ‘wired’ world of today know about the struggles in the Holy Lands of Israel between the Nation of Israel and the displaced Palestinian population. For those of you who do not know the back story of this issue I will try to condense this issue into just a few sentences so as to not make a book out of this article. When World War Two broke out the Ottoman Empire ruled the current land of Israel. After the war the British took control of that region but in the U.N. in 1947 a resolution was passed to recreate the Nation of Israel so that the displaced Jewish population could have a Nation of their own again, and this came about in 1948. Because of all the turmoil in the U.N. about this issue the Jewish people were only given a small sliver of the land that they used to call home for over 2,000 years. The British had made an agreement with the U.N. that they would pull out of Palestine in May of 1948 and then give this land to the Jewish people for their homeland. It is sad that the people who lived there were displaced, these folks years later became known as the Palestinians, refugees, a people with no ‘home’. These ‘Refugees’ were eventually taken in by Jordan but were kicked out in 1967, again making them homeless. The Islamic people of the Middle-East own about 99% of the land in this region of the world yet none of them (except for the short stint in Jordan) would let them into their countries. Either this issue shows that the ‘Palestinians people’ are very lousy guests, and/or the Islamic countries of the region are really lousy hosts, or possibly both? I say that because a brother is suppose to take in and to help when their brothers and sisters are in need but the Islamic Nations have not done that.

 

In 1948 on the day that the British completed their pull out the tiny newborn Nation of Israel was attacked by all of their Arab neighbors in an attempt to push all of the Jewish people into the Mediterranean Sea. To make a long story shorter, the people of Israel won that war but just 19 years later the Arab Nations of the Middle-East attacked Israel once again in what has become know as the Six Day War. In this war which Israel won they captured a lot more land from the Arab population who had attacked Israel. Among the lands captured was the Golan Heights in the north and they captured the rest of Jerusalem, to the south they also captured the West Bank and Gaza all the way down to the border with Egypt. The people who started the war who were in the lands that Israel recovered were also now displaced adding to a lousy situation for the Islamic people who caused the war. By my understanding it is the land that Israel recaptured in that six-day war of 1967 that has been causing the biggest conflict with the U.N. (among others). It is this land that has become known as the “occupied territories”. Some world leaders think that Israel has no rights to this land and should not build anything on it.

 

Israel was given a much larger piece of the land by God Himself somewhere around the human year of 1,800 B.C.. They lived on this land until about the year 630 A.D. when Mohammad’s army murdered their way through many countries including the land that belonged to Israel. So, here is where I want to start making some comparisons with land issues inside the U.S.. The Islamic people in Palestine had lived in what is now Israel for about 1,400 years before the U.N. gave some of it back to Israel, it is easy to understand why the ‘displaced’ people are mad at the people who now live on that land. Yet they refuse to accept the fact that there was ever a Nation of Israel before the time of Mohammad no matter how much evidence they are shown. What I am saying is the people of Israel simply took back some of what was their own in 1948 and then again in 1967. In 2005 the Israeli government in an attempt for peace gave back the ‘West Bank’ and the Gaza Strip so that the Palestinian people could have a home of their own since none of the Arab countries would ever allow them to settle in any of their countries. Land for peace is what this event was called, that concept failed, all it did was to give Israel’s haters closer Bases in which to attack Israel from. I have often wondered why if there is going to be a ‘two nation’ reality why can’t the ‘West Bank’ be given “Statehood” status? With Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip there is no way to allow them to become a State. So, who’s land is it in your eyes?

 

Now I would like to talk about the Native American ‘Indians’ and their rights to the land that we call America. A little over 500 years ago Europeans discovered North America and started settling it as if the land was barren of other human beings. Most Europeans did not consider the Indian people who were already here, and had been for thousands of years, as being humans, they demonized them as nothing but Savages. For the next 400 years Europeans kept marching west, killing the Indian people and taking their lands. By the late 1800’s America reached from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and the Native Americans had almost been exterminated. When the newspapers in the east started showing and telling the people what was being done to the Indian people they raised such a ruckus that the extermination concept ended and the concept of Reservations began. The Indian people were ‘given’ the worst of the worst lands to be exiled upon, these were lands that the white man didn’t want, so the Indian people were forced to live there.

 

I am going to make a small example for the purpose of easy clarity. There is a large Navajo Reservation in southwest New Mexico and part of eastern Arizona. I am going to use them in this example. When Europeans discovered what is today the State of New Mexico less than 300 years ago they began ‘settling’ it by removing the Native Americans who had lived there for thousands of years. If today the Navajo people decided that they were tired of living on their Reservation and told the white, black and Mexican people to move off of their land or they would be removed by the Navajo Nation, what do you think would be the result? I know this would not happen, it’s just a conversation point, but what if the U.S. Government said, okay we agree with you so all non-Indian people have to leave the state of New Mexico, what do you think would happen? Now put that concept to all of the 50 States, if the United Nations and the World Court ruled in favor of the Native Americans and they told all of us non-indigenous people to pack up and get off of the Native Americans land, where would we all go? I honestly believe that the Native American people do have the right to tell us all to get off of their land, after all it was stolen by the end of a gun from them. Now back to Israel and the Palestinian people, the Islamic people stole the land  from the Jewish people at the point of a blade, they either had to leave their homes or die. What I am saying is that there is no such thing as Israel’s “occupation” of Arab lands, there is no such thing as Israel building on occupied lands. Just as the correct thing to do here in North America is to give back the occupied lands to its rightful owners because they were well established here long before Europeans crossed the Atlantic, the people of Islam should give back all of the land that was Israel before they were stolen from them. Here in North America there is an occupation” going on right now and has been for about 500 years. In Israel the only “occupation” going on is in the lands where believers of Islam are occupying land that belongs to Israel, it is not the other way around. I hope you liked the article, I am just trying to get people to think and to consider the truth of history.

Israel: 100 Years Since The Balfour Declaration: British And International Decision To Restore Jewish Homeland And To Reestablish The Land To Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ICEJ’ NEWS)

A CENTURY TO CELEBRATE

Marking 100 Years since Balfour

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28 Nov 2016 (All day)

In the new year of 2017, we will pass several important milestones for Christians who support Israel. For instance, it has been 500 years since the start of the Protestant Reformation in October 1517, when Christians could read the Bible in their common languages once again and rediscovered that God still had plans for the Jewish people back in their ancient homeland. Meanwhile, it has been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 committed Great Britain to establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine. Finally, we will mark fifty years since the city of Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli rule during the Six-Day War of June 1967.

The anniversary of Balfour is especially significant for the state of Israel and her Christian friends. The Balfour Declaration, issued on the 2nd of November 1917, is a key document in modern Israel’s legal chain of title to the land. From this decree by the British cabinet flowed a series of international decisions to restore the Jewish nation, including the San Remo Conference of 1920, the League of Nation’s mandate over Palestine in 1922, the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Israel’s own Declaration of Independence in May 1948, and Israel’s admittance into the United Nations one year later.

The Balfour Declaration was the crowning achievement of the “Restorationist” movement in Great Britain. As early as the 1700s, leading Christian figures in England had advocated for a return of the Jews to the Land of Israel according to the divine promises of Scripture. This movement featured such noted clergymen as Charles and John Wesley, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, as well as prominent government leaders like William Wilberforce, Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury. As a result of their preaching and activism, restorationist had already become the prevailing view even within the Anglican Church by the time the Jewish Zionist movement was launched by Theodor Herzl in 1897.

When it became clear during World War I that Britain and its allies would be able to free the Middle East from Ottoman rule, the government of David Lloyd George recognized it as a historic moment to assist the Jewish Zionists in regaining their homeland. Six of the nine members of his war cabinet, including Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, were openly professing Christian Zionists and they seized the opportunity to issue the modern equivalent of the ancient decree by King Cyrus for Jews to return and rebuild their nation. Because of this solemn commitment, which came to be known as the Balfour Declaration, Britain was granted a mandate to help create a Jewish nation in the liberated province of Palestine.

So, we have much reason to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year. This coming November the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be sponsoring events and joining with Jewish and Christian friends to commemorate Balfour, including observances in London and Jerusalem.
Yet, not everyone will be hailing the centenary of the Balfour Declaration this year. In fact, Palestinian leaders will be using their internationally funded PR machinery to assail this “criminal injustice” against their people. They are demanding that Britain apologize for Balfour and are even threatening to bring a lawsuit against the United Kingdom for all the damages caused to the Palestinians ever since. Yet such moves would be untenable and even counterproductive.

The reason is that these actions against Israel would actually undermine the claims to statehood of numerous Arab nations in the region.
Britain’s motivations behind the Balfour Declaration have always been a subject of debate. Some say it was meant to win Jewish favour during the war, or to repay Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann for his valuable contributions to the war effort. Others say it was a gesture of remorse for centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, or simply an act of British expansionism.

The truth is that Balfour was a valid and noble expression of Christian sympathy for a just cause. It also was part of a series of decisions made by the victorious powers during and after the war to create trusteeship in the Middle East and elsewhere as a way of nation-building and granting self-determination to the native people’s of liberated lands. So, Balfour actually is a pivotal marker for the closing of the age of colonialism, a self-imposed end by the Western nations themselves.

One of the architects of this mandate strategy was Jan Smuts, an avowed Christian Zionist. Until that time, the European powers would have just claimed the vacated Ottoman territories of the Middle East as part of their own empires. But Smuts and others felt it was time to let native people’s rule over their own lands and that the role of Western nations was just to assist them on the way to independence. This new approach was inspired in part by American president Woodrow Wilson and his fourteen points for spreading democracy and securing the peace in the post-war era. But, Smuts also described the mandate system as a “sacred trust” meant to free various lands and people’s from foreign rule.

Thus, Britain was granted a temporary mandate in Palestine and Iraq, while France was to oversee nation-building in Lebanon and Syria. In fact every Arab nation in the Middle East today can trace its legal claim to independence back to some of the same documents and decisions which created modern Israel. This was not a case of creating a Jewish state out of nothing. The Jews, like the Arabs, were viewed as indigenous to the region and thus entitled to reconstitute their ancient nation. So, to undermine Israel’s legal chain of title by assailing the Balfour Declaration would also call into question the claims to sovereignty of all its surrounding Arab neighbors. That is not something the Palestinians should really be pursuing.

The Balfour Declaration of 2nd of November 1917 was a letter signed by Lord Balfour which conveyed to British Jewish community leader Baron Walter Rothschild the cabinet’s decision to support the Zionist cause. It stated:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Israel: Destruction Of Palestinian Homes Are At A Record Pace

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MA’AN PALESTINIAN NEWS AGENCY)

‘We have nowhere else to go’: Bedouins say they will continue to rebuild as Israel carries out home demolitions at a record pace

A white tent is the only structure left standing among the scattered piles of twisted metal and tarp that was a Jahalin Tribe Bedouin encampment West of Jericho city in the Wadi Qilt valley.

On the morning of Wednesday, January 25th, Israeli forces escorted two bulldozers down from the main road up to the small Bedouin community. Mohammed Jahalin and his family were ordered out of their houses and forcefully gathered together on the edge of their encampment where they watched as the metal blades of bulldozers smashed through their homes.

Israeli forces destroyed every standing structure in the encampment — including three houses and two livestock barns — leaving 12 people homeless, half of whom are children.

In 2016, Israeli forces demolished homes, particularly Bedouin homes, in record numbers. According to United Nations documentation, Israeli forces in 2016 demolished or seized an unprecedented 1,093 Palestinian-owned structures throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, resulting in the displacement of 1,601 Palestinians and affecting the livelihoods of another 7,101.

In the first 23 days of 2017, Israeli forces demolished 119 Palestinian-owned structures, leaving 177 Palestinians displaced. The bi-weekly average for home demolitions in 2017 is nearly a third higher than 2016’s, putting 2017 on track for another record-breaking year.

Read more on Mondoweiss: http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/bedouins-continue-demolitions/

From Standing Rock To Palestine Caterpillar Bulldozers Used To Destroy Human Rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MA’AN NEWS AGENCY IN PALESTINE)

From Standing Rock to Palestine, the Caterpillar Bulldozers at Work for the Colonial Project

(for links and other information, see original article)

 

 

Two Caterpillar bulldozers at work (left: Rafah, Palestine in 2002,      right: Standing Rock, ND on Native sacred burial ground in 2016)

Since April 1, 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, later followed by over 200 other Native nations, has been occupying the sacred site of Standing Rock in order to protect it against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline (named after the two American States, not the Native nation of course), which would carry Bakken crude from North Dakota to Illinois. Yesterday (September 8),  North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple has called for the U.S. National Guard to intervene at Standing Rock a few hours before the ruling of a lawsuit that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has brought against the U.S. government. A few days earlier, some Native organizers had been attacked by dogs ordered by private security force, and bulldozers had demolished a sacred burial ground (see the Democracy Now report here).

In looking at the right part of the photograph above illustrating this deliberate profanation, you will recognize the well-known yellow worn by all non-customized Caterpillar construction (or rather, destruction) equipment on what appears to be D8 bulldozers. Condemning Caterpillar for actions committed in the context of a State’s infrastructural construction can appear as far fetched at first glance — we will see in the last paragraph that it is actually not — but this 90-year old American company is also renowned for its numerous contracts with the U.S. Army, and has no problem to display its support to the “armed forces” on its website:

 

The part of the Caterpillar website dedicated to “Defense” is particularly interesting in this regard and relatively generous in the information given. One might have an overview of the “Defense Product Line” proposed by Caterpillar to the U.S. army and U.S. Federal civilian agencies, including bulldozers such as the D6K or the D7R. The company however does not stop at providing military equipment to an army knowingly deployed in various parts of the world; it also offers training to military operators and provide a schedule of courses throughout the year. The website also features a list of federal agencies and branches of the U.S. army that it supplies with equipment. Under the title “Foreign Military Sales Programs,” the company lists the states of Iraq and Afghanistan as also provided with such equipment as part of the so-called “Supplemental Acquisition Program.” There is however no mention of another indirect important foreign military client: the Israeli army.

The Israeli army indeed regularly purchases Caterpillar bulldozers through the “US Foreign Military Sales Program,” which are later customized by Israel Military Industries to become an autonomous war-machine able to operate in Palestinian cities without any supporting squad. The model D9 of the Caterpillar bulldozers has been a particularly recurrent acquisition by the Israeli army for decades now. Created in 1954, it has been used in every war lead by the Israeli government since the first Sinai invasion in 1956. This ‘steel monster’ is 8-meter long, 4.6-meter wide, 4-meter high, it weights 60 tons, and is usually equipped with a 1.8-meter high blade in its front and a long plowshare in the back, which can dig a 1.7-meter deep furrow. The latter was particularly used during the Second Intifada in order to sever the Palestinian infrastructure (road, water, sewage, electricity) under the pretext of demining — an easily deniable pretext since the plowshare is situated in the back of the bulldozer. The D9 has many variations: the D9T does not need an operator to be present within the vehicle, the “Lioness” version is higher than wide and can thus penetrate in narrower street — although demolishing house to let bulldozers move forward in Palestinian refugee camps has never been a problem for the Israeli army in history… (for more on the question, I can refer to my short book, The Politics of the Bulldozer)

In March 2003, an American activist named Rachel Corrie was killed by such a bulldozer in Rafah when she interposed herself (see past article) between the military vehicle and the house that its operator intended to destroy — about 2,500 Palestinian houses were demolished by bulldozers during the Second Intifada. Although this dreadful event was legitimately relayed by Western media, we can however regret that such coverage does not extend to the many Palestinians who also died in the demolition of their houses by these bulldozers. In November 2004, Human Rights Watch issued a call entitled “Israel: Caterpillar Should Suspend Bulldozer Sales – Weaponized Bulldozers Used to Destroy Civilian Property and Infrastructure,” which remained unanswered positively, Caterpillar’s CEO James Owens saying that the company did “not have the practical ability or legal right to determine how our products are used after they are sold.”

Whether used in the desecration of Native land, in the post-invasion infrastructure of Iraq or Afghanistan, or in the demolition of thousands of Palestinian homes, for the moment, this article has only evoked what we can call the weaponizable function of the bulldozer. However, we ought to look at what a bulldozer is in its essence: it is fundamentally an instrument of absolute geoengineering control over a territory and, as such, a weapon, rather than a weaponizable tool. As argued at length on this blog and elsewhere, qualifying something as a weapon (like, say, architecture) does not necessarily means that its use should be forever proscribed. What it means is that its use is inseparable from violence itself and that, as such, it necessarily crystallizes, enables, enforces a political program. If we go back to North Dakota and, more broadly, to the ways the United States have systematically assert their genocidal claim on the land, we can see how an instrument like the bulldozer (like the barbed wire, as Olivier Razac would say) was invented in such a logic of territorial domination — the displacement of Bakken (a mineral only found in the Montana, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) that the Dakota Access pipeline would enable on thousand of kilometers is also inscribed in this geoengineering dominating logic. Just like the bulldozer is a weapon, not a weaponizable tool; we should interpret what is at stake in Standing Rock and in Palestine not through a negotiation of the ways in which the politics involved could become acceptable, but rather through the prism of the entirety of the political ideologies at work: in both cases here, the variations of the same colonial project.

UN Secretary General Confirms Jewish Ties To Temple Mount

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ASHARQ AL-AWSAT NEWS AGENCY)

Middle East

Palestinians Rage over U.N. Secretary-General Guterres Comments on al-Aqsa Mosque Connection to Jewish Heritage

Palestine

“It’s clear as the son is clear that the Temple, which was demolished by the Romans, is a Jewish temple,” Guterres said.

Guterres has completely neglected the UNESCO resolutions, which clearly said that the al-Aqsa Mosque is purely an Islamic heritage.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Assistant Ahmed Majdalani said that remarks made by Guterres is a grave political transgression, and has negatively affected the credence of the U.N. and is clear that he is siding with the oppressive occupying settlements, rather than the people of Palestine. “The statement is a strike to the credibility of the U.N. as a global organization that should stay to the side of the occupied people and be against the power of the occupation,” said Majdalani.

Majdalani demanded that the Secretary General clarifies his statements, given that it goes against all international effort and grants Israel the green light to move towards Jerusalem.

Majdalani strongly criticized Guterres saying that he “lacks cultural knowledge, and must keep in mind the UNESCO’s decision, which considered Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount undisputed Islamic holy sites, dedicated for worship.”

“The U.N. must fulfill its moral and legal obligations towards people of Palestine still under occupation, and to support initiatives on resolving the Palestine cause—ducking responsibility makes the international body useless, becoming a burden to the international committee,” Majdalani said.

Guterres served as Prime Minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, and was the Secretary-General of the Socialist Party from 1992 to 2002. He also served as President of Socialist International from 1999 to 2005. In 2012, Guterres appointed American actress Angelina Jolie as his Special Envoy to represent UNHCR Refugee Agency‎ and himself on a diplomatic level.

THE TRUTH ABOUT ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

THE TRUTH ABOUT ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS

SETTLEMENTS ARE NOT THE MAJOR OBSTACLE TO PEACE

While settlements can be a source of conflict, they are not the major obstacle to peace. From 1948-1967 no Israeli settlements existed, yet the Palestinian leadership and the Arab World still sought Israel’s annihilation.

Ma'ale Adumim
As a result of the resounding Israeli victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel gained the “West Bank,” “Gaza,” ”Golan Heights” and “East Jerusalem.” Less than a week after the war ended, the Israeli unity government under PM Levi Eshkol affirmed – and then told the Americans — that Israel would return the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and the Golan Heights to Syria in return for signed peace treaties. Separate negotiations would then be conducted regarding the future of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the refugee issue. While Egypt accepted the Sinai offer, Syria rejected the Golan Heights offer. Negotiations over the West Bank and Gaza failed.

SETTLEMENTS DO NOT JEOPARDIZE FUTURE “LAND FOR PEACE” DEALS

In the meantime, some Israelis took up residence in areas around Jerusalem that were across the 1967 armistice lines. These Israeli developments, known as “Settlements,” only take up around 2% of West Bank land. Over time, US Administrations recognized that Israel would retain some of these towns in any peace agreement.

Israel has uprooted other settlements such as those in the Gaza Strip. In 2005 Israel evacuated all the Jewish families living in Gaza—a total population of 8,000. However, instead of making peace, Hamas—a terrorist organization—took over the Gaza Strip and responded by firing thousands of rockets at Israeli cities in the ensuing years.

THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT IS NOT BUILDING NEW SETTLEMENTS

For years, the only legal construction allowed by the Israeli government has been within existing communities to accommodate the natural growth of resident families. Illegal outposts, which do not conform to Israel’s policies, do exist. Some critics fault the Israeli government for not dealing with them more forcefully, but the government works to resolve the issue peacefully or by court order.

ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS MAY NOT BE ILLEGAL AT ALL  [1]

Many legal scholars question whether Settlements are illegal at all. Eugene V. Rostow, one of the authors of UN Security Council Resolution 242—written after the 1967 war to create a framework for peace negotiations—stated, “The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan River, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors.” Moreover, Rostow contended that “The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there.”

Others contend that the Geneva Convention, passed after WWII, makes the Settlements illegal. The December 2016 UN Security Council Resolution 2334 Vote—passed due to the US government’s abstention—declared them illegal and opened the door to future international actions against Israel.

PALESTINIANS ARE BUILDING ILLEGALLY AROUND JERUSALEM [2]

All of the governments and international bodies that criticize Israel for building what many claim to be legal communities are silent about the construction of new Palestinian developments surrounding Jerusalem. According to a detailed article by Bassam Tawil of the Gatestone Institute, the questionable construction is primarily in Zone-C, which under the Oslo Peace Accords should be territory controlled by Israel. According to Tawil, Palestinians estimate that in the past few years they have built more than 15,000 illegal housing units in areas surrounding Jerusalem as part of a plan to encircle the city. These are not single family homes, but massive apartment complexes without proper licenses, not built to code, and some without proper sewage. The article claims that many of the “contractors” are land-thieves and thugs who are building without permission on private Palestinian-owned land or on lands whose owners are living abroad.

THE MAJOR OBSTACLE TO PEACE IS PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP

The Palestinian leadership’s refusal to give up the conflict, recognize Israel as a Jewish State, and renounce the “right of return” for most Palestinian refugees, is the real obstacle to peace. The so-called “right of return” would allow millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to flood Israel. No Israeli leader would ever accept the “right of return,” since it would mean the end of the world’s only Jewish state. Yet, the Palestinian leadership has never told its own people that they must forfeit this claim in order to achieve peace.