Saturday, April 30

September 2011 – Unilateral Declaration of a Palestinian State?

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...Image via Wikipedia

The Israeli Government is now going into a kind of phobia. The Palestinian Authority threatens a unilateral declaration of independence on September 2011. The P.A. will apply to the UN for admission as a fully independent state.

It is very unfortunate that there have been no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority for quite a while. P.M. Salaam Fayad has been very busy trying to establish an infrastructure within the West Bank in preparation for the time when Palestine gains its independence. He is a pragmatist and is not a member of Fatah. The problem is whether he has the power to achieve this aim. So far, he has had some success in winning over the PA to his way of thinking. The Palestinian security police have improved and there is cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians in this area.

Nevertheless, much work has to be done and this can only be achieved when Israel decides to withdraw from the occupied territories and at the same time negotiations over security issues, future economic and cultural cooperation that is beneficial for both peoples must be negotiated.

Another big problem is the final borders issues between Israel and Palestine that has not been solved. Another issue is the problem of Gaza under Hamas rule. Hamas and Fatah are at loggerheads and the chances of them settling their differences are slim. World opinion is gaining ground at a rapid pace in support of a unilateral declaration of independence for Palestine and Israel cannot ignore this as much as it would like.

Israel is also complicating the issue by building new Israeli settlements in occupied territories since the settlement freeze period had expired. The idea of this is to make it more difficult for the Palestinians to achieve independence. If negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians do begin, many outstanding issues need solving including the settlers on the West Bank should if they decide to remain there. What will be their status? Will they agree to become Palestinian citizens? The chances of this are zero.

Time is not on Israel’s side and if the UN General Assembly agrees to adopt a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state alongside Israel, the US would probably veto the resolution and this would mean that the occupation would continue for an unlimited time. The spirit of the recent uprisings in the Arab states will also have an effect on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It is hoped that it would pressure the Palestinians of Gaza to demonstrate and revolt against the brutal Hamas regime. Hamas is racist, anti-democratic and tolerates no opposition to its rule. The murders that Hamas has committed against the Palestinian people of Gaza have been overlooked by many freedom activists in the world.  The flotillas that move towards Gaza’s seas are ample proof of this. They fight for the removal of Israel’s blockades but not for the removal of the cruel Hamas regime who is responsible for Israel’s initiating these blockades. These so-called freedom-fighters are strengthening Hamas and in so doing are increasing the suffering of the Palestinians of Gaza. 

On Wednesday 27th April 2011, Mahmoud Abbas the Fatah President of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas' Khaled Mashal signed an accord that may bring the two sides closer to some kind of rapprochement. This took place in Cairo to the surprise of everybody. Both sides agreed on two points:

1. Palestinian General Elections will be held in a year's time.

2. Rehabilitation of Gaza's infrastructure must be undertaken.

According to President Abbas, this will not effect the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on an eventual peace agreement.

Naturally, PM Netanyahu's reaction was a knee jerk panic reaction when he should have sealed his lips and those of his coalition. Instead he said the usual expected statements that there will be no negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians if Hamas and the PA unify unless Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist. He said the obvious which should have been unsaid only two hours after the Hamas-Fatah agreement was signed. He sent an ultimatum to the PA – they agree either to negotiate with Israel or to form a coalition with Hamas. The latter is unacceptable to Israel.

It is hard to believe that this mini-accord will be more than just that. The differences between Hamas and Fatah are so great that it is hard to believe that the gaps will be bridged.

After all, Hamas is on the verge of losing their proxies - Hezbollah (militants from Iran and Syria). This could result in Hamas moderating its stand towards Israel. The usual mantras in the Middle East are changing due to the Arab uprisings and Syria's President Bashar Assad's security forces brutally shooting Syrian demonstrators in cold blood. Assad is using the same cruel tactics as Ahmadinajad of Iran in suppressing opposition to their cruel despotic regimes. There are reports that Iran is aiding Assad in suppressing the uprising. Ahmadinajad knows that his regime will be on the firing line from the Iranian opposition. The Palestinian people of Gaza have had enough! They want to rebuild their lives and Israel is not their priority for destruction. It probably never was in the first place. Hamas, which is losing its proxies, are seeking other avenues to justify their existence. As the winds of change envelope the Middle East, Hamas - the despotic terrorist regime is not immune to the changes.

The turmoil and instability in the Middle East has resulted in Hamas putting out feelers to seek a new proxy. It is conceivable that the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt has played a part in bringing Hamas and Fatah to some kind of agreement. This is especially significant since Hosni Mubarak’s fall from power. One must remember that Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and this mini accord with Fatah may be the beginning of a new direction in the unification of Gaza and the West Bank after the upcoming Palestinian elections.

It would be interesting, in view of the changing circumstances resulting in an agreement between Hamas and Fatah, whether the support for a unilateral declared Palestinian state will lose its momentum. After all, the E.U, U.S. and Russia regard Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Netanyahu Government must also share the blame for the Hamas-Fatah mini-accord. An action always causes a reaction in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. A lack of any action is worse. It results in a stalemate and new alliances result aggravating a situation that does not improve. Every time there is an individual act of Palestinian terror it serves the Netanyahu Government’s aims – the building of more illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and thus making a Palestinian state more difficult to achieve.

The Hamas-Fatah mini-accord could result in Hamas moderating its attitude towards Israel as its despotic proxies have been weakened. Israel, on the other hand, must make a move towards getting the peace process started once more. Freezing settlements and confidence building measures must be undertaken. By doing this, Hamas will be weakened considerably as the wind will be taken out of its sails. Hamas appealed to Fatah for negotiations. They are showing signs that they are seeking another partner to replace Iran and Syria whose present regimes are weakening.

The scenario is not as terrible as the right wing in Israel imagine. It can be dangerous if the Netanyahu Government does not accept the changes occurring in the Arab world and carries on business as usual as if nothing has changed. There are many risks to Israel if they continue in the same “no movement” mode and are oblivious to world opinion. September 2011 is not so far away and they have to come to terms with a Palestinian state even if there are no negotiations. There has been enough time wasted. Time is not on Israel’s side. The chances of it being viewed as an apartheid state old white South African style may become a reality. Boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel could be the next step.

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Saturday, April 16

The Goldstone Turn About

A Qassam rocket, in Sderot, IsraelImage via Wikipedia

There is no reason to rub one's hands with glee at Judge Richard Goldstone's turn about on his report for the anti-Israel UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). We must remember that Israel is also at fault for the conclusions of the biased commission. This was mentioned when the report's conclusions first came out.

I am no legal expert nor do I claim to be a lawyer. Despite this, it is obvious that a legal report, judgment or conclusion can only be based on evidence that is available and has nothing to do with what is right or wrong morally but based on revelations by witnesses. The facts may be true or false. It was important for Israel to allow the UNHRC to interview the Israelis who had suffered from Qassam missile fire into Sderot and other areas in the south of Israel. Their evidence or witness reports would have been documented and proof of Hamas crimes against Israeli victims would have been more difficult to deny. One must also bear in mind the Hamas mantra of the desire to demoralize Israel and fantasize on its destruction. Hamas refusal to enter any form of negotiation with Israel because of its failure to recognize Israel’s right to exist must never be forgotten or pushed into the background. As far as Hamas and its lackeys are concerned Israel’s 1948 borders (or pre-June 1967 borders for that matter) are still occupied territory. It has nothing to do with Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-June 1967 borders. They will never cease (unfortunately they have not given any indication to the contrary so far) their violence against Israel until a Palestinian state is established in the place of Israel, hence their provocations.

By not allowing the Goldstone Commission to obtain evidence from the Israeli victims of the Qassam missile attacks, Israel had played into the willing hands of Hamas resulting in Goldstone being manipulated by Hamas witnesses and the UNHRC in receiving evidence which was false or at best half true.

If one reads the Washington Post op-ed, written by Judge Goldstone, the lack of evidence from Israel gave rise to the inaccurate conclusions of the Goldstone Report which was biased against Israel. Israel had therefore shot itself in the foot.

Judge Goldstone, by his own admittance, stated in his op-ed that had Israel given the information that he knows now, the report would have been different.

The fact that Judge Goldstone is Jewish or that he is a Zionist and therefore pro-Israel is irrelevant when it comes to making legal decisions or drawing conclusions. The one has nothing to do with the other when it comes to evidence which may be unpleasant to both sides. Anybody who has been involved in a court case is very aware of the way lawyers and judges function. One may be convinced of the correctness of one's case only to have it overturned by a technical legality based on new evidence that has become known and the judge's interpretation of the evidence and the legality of its acceptance before legal judgment is made.

Perhaps it would have been prudent for Judge Goldstone not to agree to lead the UNHRC which by his own admittance is biased towards Israel.

I do remember Judge Goldstone saying in an interview just after the report came out, that the UNHRC gave him the freedom to draw up the protocol for the commission and he could not refuse to be the head of a commission for which he wrote the protocol of the enquiry of Operation Cast Lead of 2008-2009 in Gaza. Perhaps this could give us an indication that he was manipulated by the UNHRC. The personal price that he paid for this was immense. He was condemned by Israel and the Jewish Community for his findings. There is no doubt that he was also manipulated by Hamas as well. The credibility of Hamas and their lackeys are questionable at all times and Israel must be apportioned the blame for omission of evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps something positive did come out of this report. It resulted in Israel investigating IDF excesses of force against innocent Palestinian civilians and those soldiers who were held responsible were brought to justice. This may not have occurred had there been no Goldstein Report. Hamas never undertook organizing a commission of inquiry into human crimes that they had committed against their own people and Israel as the Goldstone Report had requested.

During the IDF operations against the Hamas terrorists ("militants" as Hamas sympathizers call them) had used innocent Palestinian people as human shields and hid behind them in order to increase Palestinian casualties and fatalities. They did this in order to prove to the world that Israel, whom they refuse to recognize, had killed Palestinians on purpose. Judge Richard Goldstone had refuted this in contrast to what was claimed by the Goldstone Report.

In retrospect, had Judge Goldstone refused to head this commission on the grounds that it would not be prudent because of his sympathies for Israel as he claims, the one sided findings would not have backfired on him personally especially as evidence of Israeli victims harmed by Qassam missiles prior to Operation Cast Lead was withheld from the Goldstone Report.

Even to this day there is sporadic firing of Grad missiles into southern Israel by Hamas and Israel is retaliating. Indications are that Iran is taking advantage of the unstable situation in the Middle East because of the Arab uprisings and the availability of the tunnels in the Gaza strip which are unguarded.

The provocations of the extremist Islamic groups in Gaza goading Israel to retaliate
is a foolhardy action of brinkmanship, which will increase Palestinian casualties and suffering.
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Friday, April 8

The Murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis

Juliano Mer Khamis HeadshotImage via Wikipedia
Actor and director, Juliano Mer-Khamis-the son of a Jewish mother and a Christian Arab father was murdered by Palestinian terrorists on Monday April 4th 2011. He was shot 5 times at point blank range in his car in Jenin on the West Bank.

Juliano was a very talented actor and producer. His future in acting and directing was assured. However, he felt that his place was in Jenin in the West Bank working with young Palestinian children and youth. He established the Freedom Theater and continued his mother, Arna Mer-Khamis's legacy, in teaching Palestinians to act as well as the culture of acting in order to help them come to terms with the Israeli occupation.

Jule, as the Palestinians called him, was very devoted to the Palestinian cause. His mother was Jewish and his father was a Christian Arab from Nazareth. He viewed himself as 100% Jewish and 100% Palestinian.

Jule was a rare mix and a man of peace. He hated the occupation because of what it has done to both Israelis and Palestinians. He believed that the occupation is immoral.

He had no sympathy for the settlers nor did he have anything in common with extremist Palestinian ideology. Perhaps this is the reason why he was assassinated. He was different!

He taught acting skills to the Palestinian youth. He seemed to be admired and loved by all. Apparently this is not entirely correct. He was a freethinking progressive humanist believing in coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis.

Today the Arab people in the Middle East are fighting for democracy and human rights in their society as well as equality before the law. As mentioned in my previous articles, the Arab uprising is not about Israel which has always been a uniting factor in the Arab world. The Arab dictators had always kept the fire of hate for Israel as a mantra to maintain their own stability and to oppress their own people.

The Arab uprisings against their own ruthless dictatorships are part of the process for democracy and human freedom.

If this is the case, their message has not reached Palestine in its entirety. There are still Islamic extremists in Palestinian society that are using the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict as a mantra to maintain a semblance of unity. This unity serves the extremists in Palestinian society – the hate for Israel which had been common place since its establishment in 1948 and which is manipulated by Hamas and its terrorist allies. As far as they are concerned Israel is occupied territory.

Jule was part of the spirit of equality, human rights and democracy. He was the embodiment of freedom, progress as well as equality of the sexes.

Despite all positive qualities that he had and the Freedom Theater that he had established, there are still hard core conservatives in Palestinian society that wished his death. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their extremist Islamic allies are groups that are against Palestinian progress. They still hold much power especially in Gaza and it is difficult to assess their power in the West Bank. Jule was a thorn in their flesh. He had been subjected to death threats and even his Freedom Theater was vandalized. Jule's progressive ideology was too much for them. He paid the ultimate price by being murdered in cold blood. He had imbued his students with freedom and equality. This was in keeping with the spirit of the Arab arising but not in keeping with Hamas and their extremist ideologues.

He was loved by all peace people - Palestinians and Israelis. Maybe his mixed identity was not what the racist Islamic groups in Palestinian society wanted. They viewed him as a threat to their potential hegemony and murdered him.

This tragedy is a loss to both Palestinians and Israelis who believe in peace, coexistence, democracy and human rights.

Apart from sporadic condemnation for his tragic assassination, the left in Israel has remained relatively silent. If he had been murdered by Jewish extremists, the left would have been stronger in their condemnation. It seems as if Palestinian extremists have poetic license to kill even a true democrat on their side. It will take a long time, if ever, before the spirit of the Arab uprising reaches the hardcore religious extremists in Palestine with their vitriol towards those who are different. The Israeli occupation is blamed for almost everything even if it is the fault of the Hamas regime itself. The murder of Jule emphasizes this fact and it rings true today.

Here was a man of mixed Palestinian-Israeli blood that tried his best to build bridges of peace between the two peoples. Instead Palestinian racist extremists felt it their duty to spill his blood because of their bloodlust directed at those who are different.

It seems that all peacemakers, irrespective of whether they are Palestinians or Israelis, are under threat from Hamas and their extremist factions.

We must not allow their evil ideology of racism and hate to move us from the sacred cause of democracy, tolerance, peace and coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis. We must also support the fight for democracy and freedom in the Middle East. This would be the best way that we could honour this incredible man.

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