Know More About Palestine

Dec. 16, 2014
Daily summary- Monday, January 20, 2014
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A Palestinian official revealed yesterday that the leadership would inform US Secretary of State John Kerry during his upcoming visit to Ramallah, of its rejection of his proposals on Jerusalem, borders, refugees, an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and at the Palestinian border with Jordan and the Jewishness character of Israel. The official, who refused to give his name, told Al Quds that, in spite of the pressures being exerted on it, the leadership was not accept to consider the Arab towns of Shufat, Ezzariyeh, Abu Dis and Essawiyeh as alternatives to Jerusalem and to maintain occupied East Jerusalem as part of the unified capital of Israel. The official said the leadership would also inform Kerry of its adherence to the June 1967 borders as a reference and its rejection of the annexation of East Jerusalem, the settlements, the land behind the separation wall and the Jordan Valley under the guise of a so-called land swap between both sides. The leadership will also reaffirm its adherence to the right of return of refugees and reject Kerry’s suggestion to resettle refugees in host countries or a third country, including the nullification of the right of return and replacing it with compensation.
The official went on to say that it would also not accept a Palestinian state stripped of sovereignty, adding that the leadership called on Arab countries to adopt its position and also not accept the American proposals, which the official said was a means of stripping the Palestinians of some of its basic national rights. (Al Quds)


An informed Palestinian source yesterday said that Secretary Kerry had postponed his visit to the region because of disputes with Israel over the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis. According to the source, Kerry was scheduled to arrive in Israel and the West Bank this week, but postponed his visit because of differences with the Israelis over reaching a framework agreement. The source, who asked to remain unnamed, said Israel informed Kerry of its rejection at this stage of signing any written document in the negotiations so that ‘they are not accused of hindering talks at a later stage.” The source also said that a new date for Kerry’s visit had not been rescheduled. In related news, according to Haaretz, Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu envoy Molcho are heading to Washington to hold talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry today and to discuss the framework agreement which the US wants to reach. (Al Ayyam)

In an interview with Moroccan television yesterday, President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians have not gotten anything from the negotiations, but said that Kerry was still trying hard. Abbas said that he had not heard about Kerry’s alleged proposal for the Palestinian borders to be under American protection, but said they would accept a third party the than the Israelis at the borders, whether they are American or NATO forces. Abbas also said he rejected the idea of swapping land and people, explaining that the Arabs inside Israel have been on their land 1,500 years before Israel was established. “They are different than the settlers, who are usurpers of the land and have no legitimate right to it,” he explained, adding that ‘we have no problem with slight and mutual modifications of equal value and scope to the ’67 borders. (Al Quds)

Hours after Israeli air strikes attempted to assassinate a Palestinian activist in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his weekly cabinet meeting that Israel was determined to secure what he called “calm in the south of the country”, advising Hamas – with a tinge of threat – to take this policy very seriously. Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon also threatened the Strip and those who he accused of wanting to return the situation to its past state, with rockets into Israel, threatening ‘them and all those who support them.” Ya’alon said that the army had tried to assassinate an Islamic Jihad activist who Israel says is responsible for firing rockets at Israeli targets, including the rocket fired on Saturday at Ashkelon. “We cannot just give up and live with these rockets,” Ya’alon said. “We will do everything in our power to crack down on those who threaten the lives of our citizens.” He also said Israel holds Hamas responsible for the rocket fire, saying that if they don’t take control, Israel would continue to carry out strikes against their interests. “I don’t recommend anyone in Gaza to test our patience and determination to protect Israelis,” he warned.
Two people were wounded yesterday in the airstrikes, one, the Jihad activist, who was hit while riding his motorcycle north of Gaza and is now in critical condition, while the second was a 12-year old child who was in the vicinity, lightly injured. (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
One man, Saad Dabbur, who was working in the area, barely survived the attack, which killed his donkey after he parked his cart to go and get breakfast. The Israeli missile hit shortly after that. (Al Ayyam)

An informed Egyptian source said yesterday that Hamas promised to reign in rocket launchers in order to avoid any new military Israeli action on Gaza and thus ruin the truce agreement between Hamas and Tel Aviv. The source said that the Hamas leadership in Gaza said it was fully committed to working harder in reigning in those who fire rockets into Israel, also saying that Cairo told Hamas via a Palestinian medium that it would “turn a blind eye’ to any Israeli responses to individual rockets  shot into Israel. However, he said that Egypt would not allow Tel Aviv to launch a full scale attack on the Strip. (مصدر-مصري-حماس-تعهدت-بلجم-مطلقي-الصواريخ-على-اسرائيل/)

Dozens of ‘critical humanitarian cases’ were able to leave the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus yesterday according to head of the PLO political department Anwar Abdel Hadi, who said around 50 cases were able to leave the camp. He added that another 100 were waiting to leave by the end of the day and that each day more cases would be brought out with eventually 600 being able to exit the camp. He said the cases included people suffering from chronic illness, children and pregnant women. Abdel Hadi also said that a new convoy of aid was waiting at the northern entrance of Yarmouk, comprised of 400 packages, which would enter today. (Al Ayyam)

The working group for Palestinians in Syria said yesterday that 30 Palestinian refugees had died in Syria last week, 12 of whom had perished from hunger in the Yarmuk camp. The group said that the Khan Al Sheikh camp had been subject to heavy shelling last week with the killing of Abdallah Ghbari from the Palestinian liberation army, yesterday. Furthermore, since the start of the siege on Yarmouk seven months ago, 57 people had died of hunger.(استشهاد-30-فلسطينيًا-بسوريا-الأسبوع-الماضي.html)

Jerusalem municipality teams and Israeli army forces raided areas if Silwan yesterday, distributing administrative demolition orders to residential and commercial facilities and a sports field under the pretext of not having a license. According to the Wadi Hilweh information center, the teams distributed eight orders including three for shops, one for the sports field and four to homes in various parts of Silwan.  On the 850 square meter field, the Israeli authorities placed an order for ‘demolition and leveling”. The information center said Israeli authorities wanted to level the field and take over the land in order to link the settlement enclave in Silwan to Jabal Al Mukkaber. (Al Quds)

Israeli occupation forces demolished a scrap shop this morning belonging to Abu Zneid in the deir Samet village southwest of Hebron. Everything inside was also destroyed, valued by the owner at hundreds of thousands of shekels. Abu Zneid was handed a demolition order by the authorities a few days ago. Israeli forces also demolished fences and facilities belonging to shops near the Beit Awaa village southwest of Hebron, close to an Israeli military post at the entrance to the village. (الاحتلال-يهدم-محل-خردة-ومنشآت-بالخليل.html)

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz today, in contradiction with government decisions, the Benyamin regional settlement council has transferred NIS51 million in funds over the past few years to ‘random’ settlement outposts. The published report said the government covered the budget deficit in the settlement council. The law prevents local and regional settlement councils from funding random for settlement outposts, but the government obviously turns a blind eye. According to the report, the Benyamin settlement council received a ‘gift’ from the interior ministry in 2012 of NIS80 million to close the budget gap and NIS15 million from the government to fund education, entertainment and infrastructure services, while the budget also showed that NIS121 million entered the budget under the category “independent sources.” The report also said the settlement council spent NIS13 million on infrastructure for the settlement outposts and half a million shekels for what it calls “maintaining state land” along with nearly NIS2 million for the Yesha settlement council. (

The national campaign to reclaim the bodies of martyrs announced yesterday that the bodies of two martyrs, Fat’hi Amira from Nablus and Ata Samahneh from the Nasariyeh village northeast of Nablus, would be returned tomorrow evening at the Taybeh checkpoint near Tulkarm. The return of their remains comes after the return of the body of another martyr, Majdi Khanfar from Jenin. (Al Quds)

According to the Israeli daily Maariv yesterday, French President Francois Hollande announced that Paris would propose a donor country conference for the support of a future Palestinian state. Hollande also said that the summoning and reprimand of the Israeli ambassador for the publication of settlement tenders was ‘part of the diplomatic game”. He said France trusts both negotiating sides, saying they ‘must reach a compromise” which includes the establishment of two states with Jerusalem as their capital.” (Al Quds)
In related news, the French ambassador for economic growth and development Pierre Ducan said it was unlikely that European aid to the Palestinians would be halted, but aided that two things must be made clear. One, is that the Europeans must be sure they are helping a real institutional and developmental process; and two, that that aid will lead to the aspired goal. (Al Ayyam)

Israeli occupation authorities released Hamas leader Hasan Yousef after a two-year stint in Israeli prison. Yousef was arrested in 2011 for being a member of an ‘illegal organization’ After his release, Yousef told reporters that he would work alongside Fateh leaders and other factions to achieve national reconciliation. Yousef was released from the Ofer detention center west of Ramallah. (Al Hayat Al Jadida)

The Palestinian anti-corruption commission said yesterday that Israel was threatening to arrest its head, Rafiq al Natsheh because of the arrest of a Palestinian with a Jerusalem ID. In a statement, the commission said Natsheh was threatened with arrest by Israeli authorities “if the detainee was not released”. The person in question was arrested in a corruption case on charges of forging seals and documents related to cars customs. The commission, however said that it would adhere to the law and keep the defendants in custody until their questioning is finished, ‘regardless of whether they have Jerusalem ID cards or not”. The threats, according to the commission, were made via official parties in the PA. The defendant was arrested a week ago. (
*Canadian foreign minister to meet with Abbas today in Ramallah (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Arab parliamentary union calls for standing by financial commitments to Palestine (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Netanyahu condemns postponement of UNESCO exhibit (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*PLC calls on government to manage dialogue between UNRWA and the workers’ union (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
*Occupation forces open settlement road in Walajeh, south of Jerusalem (Al Quds)\
*Israeli police detain two buses carrying families of prisoners from Jerusalem (Al Quds)
*Official Jordanian source denies agreement to allow Israel to keep control of the Jordan Valley (Al Quds)
*Ya’alon confirms his absolute rejection of Kerry’s plan (Al Ayyam)
*Rocket fired near Ashkelon; southern towns told to prepare for escalation (Al Ayyam)
*Netanyahu wants to annex fourth settlement bloc to Israel and isolate Ramallah from the West Bank (Al Ayyam)
*Shalom warns: any American pressure on Israel will torpedo the negotiations (Al Ayyam)
*Nsour: no relationship between peace negotiations and nationalization (Al Ayyam)
Front Page Photos
Al- Quds:Jerusalem: construction works speed up at the Mufti Amin Husseini’s palace “Shepherd’s Hotel” in Sheikh Jarrah, to build 20 settlement units, in spite of international condemnation
Al-Ayyam:Gaza: youths gather around ruins of motorcycle after a Jihad Quds Brigades member survived an assassination attempt near Jabaliyah Nazleh, yesterday
Al Hayat Al Jadida:1) Citizens look at the motorcycle targeted by Israeli aircraft yesterday in Gaza; 2) security services and citizens carry the body of Majdi Khanfar after it was handed over by Israel; 3) Sheikh Hasan Yousef hugs his wife after being released
Voice of Palestine News
Jerusalem: Municipality and police crews handed in Silwan a new batch of demolition orders for houses, facilities and the Wadi Helwa stadium. This new batch of orders include 8 orders following a previous batch handed over last week, reaching a number of 15 orders in two weeks in Ein Al-Louza and Wadi Helwa in Silwan. In the same context, the occupation authorities forced bulldozer driver Salah Bader form Abu Dies, to Bulldoze a main road in the village, after he opened the road at new year’s eve, then he was arrested and ordered to bulldoze the road again.
With regards to Al-Aqsa, Yehuda Glick continued to lead groups of extreme Jews to storm Al-Aqsa, yesterday he confronted with Al-Aqsa guards after insisting on entering the electricity station there for taking pictures.
With regards to tightening on release prisoners from Jerusalem, the occupation authorities invited released prisoner Mahmoud Da’ajnah from Shua’fat refugee camp yesterday for investigation, on the pretext of owing the municipality 70,000 NIS for Arnona fees. This debt is since more than 20 years, meaning that it is before his arrest, he was bailed out demanding that he pay his debt soon.  
Inside the green line:
Q: Expectations that the coming hours will determine what will happen in Gaza, especially in light of the latest Israeli attacks, what are the situation in the Israeli government?
First of all when Israeli announces it cancels schools in Ashdod this means that the army is preparing for more operations in Gaza, in addition to warning of Israeli Defense Minister. We also know of troops deployment in the south, Israel seems to be serious in insisting to keep its air attacks, and it says that Hamas is not interested in a confrontation with Israel but as long as missiles are being launched from Gaza Israel will continue with its air attacks.
Q: news says that Israel deployed a new system in eth south; can you tell us more about this?
First of all there is the iron dome, but seem it is not so successful, not being able to hit all rockets and missiles launched from Gaza. Since the last war on Gaza, Israel is trying to produce a new system that will be more successful in targeting missiles.
Q: On the ground, do you anticipate any military movement?
Air attacks will continue, but with regards to ground attack, Israel has a plan ready, but it tries to play with this card without moving, holding communication with the Egyptian side and passing clear message to Hamas. The plan is ready; the question though remains when this will happen.
Q: Finally, on the political level, news says that Kerry will arrive to Israel and that he will meet with Livni today, other news says that he will postpone his visit because of Ya’alon statements?
First of all we heard a lot of Israeli statements, Ya’alon and Netanyahu etc... With regard to the meeting, yes today Kerry will meet Livni and Molcho today in Washington, and will also discuss preparations for a meeting between Kerry and Netanyahu in Davos conference. With regards to postponing Kerry’s visit I don’t think there is any postponement of the visit at this moment.
Q: Our correspondent from inside the green line said that there is some troops’ deployment at the borders with the Gaza Strip, what is the situation in Gaza?
Yes, with regards to the citizens there are fears of Israeli aggression similar to the last aggression; yesterday the occupation targeted one of Al-Quds brigades’ activists in Gaza, in addition to other attacks in Gaza. All of these say that the occupation is planning for a new aggression, in addition to threats by Ya’alon, but at the same time, the Palestinian factions warn the occupation authorities form launching any attack against Gaza, since this will have dangerous consequences in the region. Everybody here say that Israel is escalating against the Gaza Strip.
Rafah crossing is closed for the 12th day now, and Karm Abu Salem was re-opened today to enter 230 trucks of materials.
Voice of Palestine Interviews
** Kayed Al-Ghoul, member of the political bureau of the Popular Front, on the situation in Gaza.
Q: threats from Netanyahu and Ya’alon to escalate in Gaza, are the Palestinian factions in Gaza coordinated in preparing for such escalation?
First of all these threats should be dealt with very seriously, since Israel taught us that any aggression against Gaza is usually preceded by preparing the international and region scenes to hold the Palestinians responsible for the aggression. Unfortunately, we never learned the lessons with regards to the national activism, and we are not being coordinated as factions to confront the aggression. There are some meetings but these are not serious.
Q: I understand that there is not coordination at all to confront these threats?
There are some contacts when we feel danger but there is nothing systematic, there should be one body that include all and coordinate between all.
Q: the Israeli pretext is the same always, what is the reason this time?
Israel has a clear goal, to keep the Strip calm, at the same time it wants to convey messages to more than one side including the Palestinians, to accept any political deal, like the Kerry plan etc… Israel is always doing this a policy, but  the main issue is that it wants to continue the calm situation allowing it to continue occupying the Palestinian people, and any attempt of resistance will be answered by Israel with violence.
** Dr. Reyad Al-Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Q: Can you give us some details on the President’s meetings this week?
Yes, the president will receive today the Canadian Prime Minister, for his first visit to eth region. As you know the Canadian position is biased to Israel in which it voted against Palestine in the UN, and we will receive him but at the same time we realized some development in the CanadianPalestinian relations, where he will announce a financial support for some projects in some $ 65 million, especially for the private sector. The day after tomorrow, the president will receive Romanian Prime Minister in an official visit; there is a Romanian wish to develop the relationship with Palestine. The president visited Romania two years ago, and this would be the second visit of Romanian Prime Visit.
After that the president will leave to Moscow for an official visit, where he will meet with Prime Minister Medvedev, President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov. The president is keen on continuing to update the Russians on the peace process, we consider ourselves friends of the Russians and we would like to hear their comments on the peace process and other developments in the region.,
** Dr. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, on the peace process.
Q: News say that negotiations will be extended and it will include releasing more prisoners, and that the fourth batch of released prisoners remains as planned?
There are no talks on extending the negotiations, as we said before, there will be no extension even for one moment, and whoever wants to achieve peace can do this immediately according to international resolutions, and Israel should be stopped from what it’s doing to do so. With regards to eth fourth and last batch of releasing prisoners, it will take place as planned, and will include 30 prisoners. As for the rest of prisoner they top our priorities list, and we will do everything to release them.
Q: US President said that opportunities to reach an agreement are less than 50%, is this true?
I don’t want to get into details but yes the situation is not easy with Israel still imposing facts on ground and continues with its settlement policy, and refusing to deal with the process according to international legitimacy.
Q: Livni and Molcho in Washington to meet Kerry, news says that Washington is preparing an agreement to be presented to both sides in two weeks, are you updated on such meetings?
No not yet.
Q: Are there any meetings soon with Kerry, maybe at the Davos conference?
Yes, I think meetings will take place at the Davos conference, I will be there, I still don’t know regarding Washington.
Q: Ya’alon attacks Kerry’s plan again, how does this affect the peace process, sources say that Kerry postponed his visit to the region because of these statements?
These statement show the real face of the Israeli government, Ya’alon is the one who demolishes houses, continue to build in settlements, the one who continue the siege over Gaza, he is destroying all what is being built by the peace process, so these statements express the real position of this government.
Q: London based newspaper “Al-Hayat” quoted a Palestinian source as saying that Kerry will visit the region to hold a Jordanian – Palestinian – Israeli summit in Aqaba, to announce an agreement?
I did not hear anything about such a summit; I hope that the media will say who this source in such cases is. This information is not true.
Q: So will Kerry visit the region soon?
No, nothing is set yet.
More Headlines
Israeli bulldozers open settlement road in Walajeh
Israeli occupation bulldozers opened a settlement road yesterday in the town of Walajeh south of Jerusalem, connecting with the settlement of Har Gilo in the city. According to the Walajeh mayor Abdel Rahman Abu Teen, the bulldozers opened the road from the northern side of the village, adding that the villagers had not received any warnings or notices to this effect. Neither did Israeli authorities announce any tenders for the road, he said. (Al Quds)
Shalom warns: Any American pressure on Israel will torpedo the negotiations
Israeli energy ministry Silvan Shalom sent out a warning yesterday to the United States, saying that if it put any pressure on Israel, this would lead to the destruction of peace negotiations. Shalom told Israeli radio “Reshet Bayt” after returning from a conference in the UAE that if the US forces Israel to commit to the American document and adopt the American position on the negotiating process with the Palestinians, this would torpedo the talks, saying Israel wanted to extend the talks for another year. (Al Ayyam)
Israeli businessmen worn of economic boycott of Israel
One hundred Israeli businessmen warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that there would be an economic boycott of Israel if a peace agreement with the Palestinians is not reached. According to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahranoth today, the businessmen are owners of large economic companies in Israel and will take part in the Davos economic summit this month. In a statement, the businessmen expressed their concern over the impasse in the peace process, saying that “the world is losing patience; the threat to boycott of Israel and impose sanctions on it will harm economic growth; this is why we must reach an agreement with the Palestinians.” The businessmen met with Netanyahu last week and warned him of the danger of sanctions. The head of Bank Leumi told him that the Dutch retirement fund was going to halt is investments in Israel because of its practices against the Palestinians, something she said would create a difficult problem for Israel. (
Arab Press
When Palestinian leaders feign shame

By Bakir Oweida

Had shame found its way into the hearts of many Palestinian leaders, they might have saved their people much pain and misery. This is not to mention their responsibility for the Palestinian fathers who died as martyrs, leaving widows, orphans and bereaved mothers.

Some of these leaders have feigned shame. Some have even made a living from doing so, touring world capitals, becoming rich and showing off those riches while trampling on people’s modesty.

You might ask me what has brought on all this talk about shame. ‘You are writing like someone who has been irritated by something in particular,’ you could even say.

Well, as for being irritated, I am, and as for what led me to mention shame, it was the way in which Zien al-Abidine al-Rikabi chose to end his article in this newspaper on Jan. 11, by saying: “How can people be victorious when they try to defeat their enemy by doing what the enemy wants, which is achieving the permanent division of Palestinians? Be ashamed, be ashamed for yourselves, for your children and families; be ashamed for your friends and the supporters of your cause. Be ashamed . . . be ashamed . . . be ashamed.”


It is possible that the anger of another caused by their concern for a cause you both love can move something in you that you had previously stifled, revealing what has been hidden for many years. I had thought the pain had passed, numbed by all the other tragedies that followed.

Is there any possibility of any shame or remorse, dear leaders, who are responsible for the people of Palestine and their cause?

Rikabi’s conclusion was a mix of anger, regret and sorrow towards a process of division which has taken control of the Palestinian leadership, prompting his angry cry: “Be ashamed . . . be ashamed . . . be ashamed.”

How can I not be angry when I feel this writer’s pain and anger even though I am far away, particularly when I am suffering from the same pain? He talks about the place where I suffered the pain of asylum as a child and then as a young man dreamed of returning from Gaza to Beersheba. And my own professional experience as a journalist gave me access to Palestinian leaders to discuss politics with them, and listen to what they said “off the record” in their local gatherings.

No shame

How can I not be angry by the call to “be ashamed . . . be ashamed . . . be ashamed.” I recall the number of times many souls wept because of the actions of those who imposed their leadership on the Palestinians. It is true: if you have no shame, you can do whatever you like.

These days, I see the shameful actions of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus, and it reminds me of the tragedy of Sabra and Shatila, and other places in Lebanon, during what became known as the War of the Camps of 1985. This was when Palestinians who led Palestinian organizations affiliated themselves with the elder Assad, and became allies of the Amal Movement, which was allied to the Syrian regime at the time, in order to expel the Fatah Movement led by Yasser Arafat from Lebanon.

Those who paid the price for that vicious war were the innocent refugees besieged and starved by those who claimed they were leaders of a revolution whose aim was to liberate the stolen homeland, but in reality were not ashamed to sell the Palestinian cause in favor of the interests of the Syrian regime and its agenda.

Divide and conquer

To be dependent on the ruler in Damascus mirrored the Palestinian leaders’ submission to the ruler in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein began to plant in the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s soil any factions he wanted to plant, paying them handsomely at times and reprimanding them at others, aiming to divide the Palestinians, even using murder and assassination. Meanwhile, those of the ilk of Sabri Al-Banna (Abu Nidal) were not afraid, let alone ashamed, to fire their bullets at those who were once their comrades.

The allegiance of some Palestinian leaders moved from Damascus and Baghdad, again with no shame, to Muammar Qaddafi’s Tripoli. There were rumors that some of them even stood beside the despot and fought against the Libyans in the February 25 revolution, as though bolstering the dictatorship of Bab al-Aziziyah [Qaddafi’s main base] was a prerequisite to enter a liberated Jerusalem, just as someone previously said Amman was the “Hanoi of the revolution,” as though the Jordanian capital must be destroyed in order for the Palestinian phoenix to rise from the ashes.

Twisted logic

Jordanian–Palestinian, Lebanese–Palestinian, Syrian–Palestinian or Palestinian–Palestinian, who cares? As long as the twisted logic of “my brother and I against my cousin” prevents the Palestinians from feeling guilt when they fight against their brothers in arms and their comrades—or, worse, they don’t question it and they don’t feel shame.

The infighting that erupted in Gaza between the leaders of Fatah and Hamas at the end of 2006 and the beginning of 2007 was not the first conflict between Palestinians, either between one faction and another or within the same faction, although people hoped it was the last one and that the leaders of both sides would respect the Mecca Agreement signed on Feb. 8, 2007.
Then there was the Doha Agreement signed on Feb. 6, 2012, which went the same way as its predecessor, with the divisions remaining the same, possibly because the minority who benefited from it was not interested in the harm inflicted on the majority. So, again, where was the shame?


The Israelis buried Ariel Sharon, whose coffin was covered with wreaths. Some saw him as a “hero” and some called him a “king,” but the so-called “honor” he deserved in the eyes of all those with consciences outside Israel, and some inside, should be the “dishonor” reserved for a war criminal. On the other hand, the Palestinians’ “pride,” which destroyed itself as a result of this shamelessness, allowed Sharon himself to celebrate a victory that was presented to him by his very enemy more than once.

Is there any possibility of any shame or remorse, dear leaders, who are responsible for the people of Palestine and their cause? I repeat the question, using the cry of Zein al-Abidine al-Rikabi at the end of his touching article. And so that despair does not take hold, we must hope. Perhaps one day.(

Looting Palestine’s cultural heritage


Arab obituary writers had a field day recently composing retrospectives about Ariel Sharon’s long and brutal career as a war criminal. But the man had done more than massacre Palestinians and encourage Jewish colonization of their land. He was also a ruthless plunderer who was behind the looting of their archival heritage; an act intended to rob an exiled and occupied people of their past, their culture and their national identity. And to rob a people of their heritage is to reduce them to a fragment of their humanity.

Let’s backtrack to Sept. 14, 1982, when Sharon’s troops entered Beirut (after a long siege and after PLO fighters had evacuated the city) with calculatedly specific orders to loot the Palestine Research Institute. The orders he had given were clear: Haul away and truck to Israel the entire archives to be found there. I was in Beirut at the time — ironically, there to draw on the resources of the Institute for a book that year — and can attest, if only after the fact, to the devastation inflicted on the place.

The Palestine Research Institute had 25,000 priceless volumes in several languages, the world’s largest collection of ancient manuscripts on Palestine, maps dating back to the 12th century, calligraphic compositions, microfilms and other irreplaceable items.

Israeli soldiers busied themselves in the seven-story building for a whole week — and not just carting away, and effectively obliterating, the recorded memory of Palestine. They smashed filing cabinets, desks and other furniture and, as if in a display of mean-spiritedness, even made off with telephones, heating equipment and stationery. For good measure, they also blew up the office safe, presumably to inspect its contents.

They left the place littered with broken bookcases, twisted metal shelves and other office debris. And since the non-profit Institute was partially funded by the PLO, these soldiers made sure that, before finally leaving with the last of their booty, they removed the word “Palestine” from a sign carrying the PLO name that was mounted outside the building. (Does our name scare these folks that much?)

The whole episode was crushing for the Institute’s director, Sabri Jiryis, then 46, an academic who had grown up as an “Israeli-Arab,” to whom this repository of Palestinian culture was all he dedicated his life to. But it was equally crushing for all of us at the time — for all Palestinians, for all Arabs, indeed for all men and men around the world who cared about the life of the mind, men and women who knew that to preserve and protect other people’s archival history is to preserve and protect all humanity’s archival history. Ever since the dawn of man, there has been a global dialogue of cultures, with people everywhere lending and borrowing ideas from each other, whether these ideas related to literature or science, mathematics or technology, astronomy or architecture, storytelling or music.

True, no one — certainly no one in our part of the world — will ever forgive or forget the savageries Ariel Sharon has committed against Arabs in his long, despicable career as a war criminal, but I for one, carrying still, after all these years, the memory of what he had his soldiers so vindictively do to the Palestine Research Institute in Beirut over three decades ago, will never, ever forgive and forget.

The theft of another people’s heritage, including their art and antiquities, is often tolerated because it is considered a victimless crime. After all, the argument goes, we’re not talking here about, say, 254 bodies thrown in the well in Deir Yassein in April 1948, or about hand grenades lobbed by soldiers from Unit 101 into homes in Qibya that killed 69 villagers in October 1953, or about hundreds (perhaps thousands) of unarmed refugees in Sabra and Shatila massacred in cold blood in September 1982, are we?

But wait. The effusions of our culture are of monumental significance to us, whatever society we belong to. These effusions never fail to strike a visceral chord in all of us. They document our collective being, our inherited archetype and our shared memories. Thus what these Israeli soldiers did that day was to steal from us more than books and manuscripts and beautiful calligraphy and resonant poetry composed by our ancestors. They stole our identity. They stole our history.

Sharon did that to us in 1982. So when I damn the man in my prayers, wishing him an exalted place in everlasting hell, I will do so because he was not satisfied to just kill Palestinians in body, ravaging their home and homeland. He wanted to kill their soul as well. A more evil man has never lived in the second half of the 20th century.(

Netanyahu rolls out new roadblock to peace

By Jonathan Cook

Demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is new cornerstone of Israeli diplomacy.

Nazareth, Israel - To the surprise of observers, given the many issues blocking progress in the current Middle East peace talks, Israel and the United States now appear to regard the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as the key obstacle to an agreement.

This demand is relatively new to the peace process, having made its debut in 2007 - 14 years after the Oslo accords originally laid down the path that was supposed to lead to Palestinian statehood.

In 1993, in the run-up to the signing of the accords, Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, wrote a letter to the Israeli prime minister at the time, Yitzhak Rabin, officially recognizing Israel. In return, Rabin recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the representative of the Palestinian people.

But such recognition no longer appears enough for Israel.

While former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert first mooted Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state at the brief revival of peace talks in Annapolis seven years ago, it has become a cornerstone of Israeli diplomacy only since Benjamin Netanyahu took office.

In recent months he has reiterated that Palestinian recognition of Israel as "the nation state of the Jewish people" is the "real key for peace" and an "essential condition" for an agreement. In a video message to the Saban Forum in Washington last month, Netanyahu stated that the core of the conflict was "about one thing: The persistent refusal to accept the Jewish state in any border".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly rejected such a provision in a final agreement. He wrote letters last month to both US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry that included his objections.

This month Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the PLO, characterized Israel's demand as an attempt to "legalese racism". She added that Israel wanted to "create a narrative that denies the Palestinian presence, rights, and continuity on the historic Palestinian lands".

Impossible demand

Many Palestinian analysts suspect that Netanyahu, long identified with the hawkish right, has only raised this new condition to stymie chances of the talks progressing further.

Yaron Ezrahi, a politics professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, agrees, saying Netanyahu introduced the demand as a "cynical spoiler". He added, "It is a ridiculous demand because even Israelis are not agreed on what it means to be a Jewish state, or even who is included in the definition of the Jewish people."

Like many other observers, Ezrahi believes that Netanyahu has imposed the condition because it puts Abbas in "an impossible position" on several fronts.

It would require him to sacrifice the rights of Palestinian refugees, expelled during the founding of Israel in 1948, to return to their former lands. It would undermine the struggle of Israel’s large Palestinian minority for equality. And it would confer Palestinian consent on the erasure of their narrative of the events of 1948.

"For all these reasons," says Jamal Zahalka, a member of the Israeli parliament representing the country’s Palestinian minority, "no Palestinian leader could ever agree to this demand."

However, much to the consternation of the Palestinian leadership, the US diplomatic team led by Kerry, that is overseeing the current peace talks, appears to have taken Netanyahu’s new condition to heart.

Israeli officials have said that Kerry intends to include Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state in his so-called "framework proposal", which is supposed to lay out the contours of a final peace agreement.

Israel has also been lobbying European leaders to recognize it as a Jewish state. Zahalka says that in meetings with European governments he has heard an increasing readiness to do so.

Kerry is expected to unveil his peace plan to both the Israelis and Palestinians in the coming weeks, with the talks due to finish at the end of April. However, Israel is said to have requested that the negotiations continue for another year.

In a sign of how quickly the recognition demand has risen to the top of the agenda, Kerry is widely reported to have sought the backing of Arab states for the inclusion of this provision in a final agreement, during a meeting of the Arab League’s foreign ministers in Paris on January 12.

International pressure

Beforehand, he also travelled to Amman and Riyadh in what Israeli officials said were efforts to lobby King Abdullah of Jordan and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Israel’s behalf.

According to several reports, Kerry is seeking to add recognition of Israel as a Jewish state into the Arab Peace Initiative, unveiled by Saudi Arabia in 2002. The plan, which Israel has ignored for more than a decade, offers Israel peace with the whole Arab world in return for its agreement to create a Palestinian state.

The Times of Israel said Kerry hoped that Abbas might concede recognition if he comes under enough pressure from other Arab leaders.

Without recognition from the Palestinians, Haaretz reported, Kerry believes "he will find it very hard to get Netanyahu either to agree to conduct negotiations on the basis of the 1967 lines or to demonstrate flexibility on the issue of [Israeli] security arrangements".

However, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki said Kerry had been rebuffed at the Arab League meeting on the recognition issue. "The Arab states will never recognize a Jewish state," he told Radio Palestine after the Paris meeting.

So what is at stake for both sides if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

For Netanyahu, what started as a cynical ploy, says Ezrahi, has become a matter of growing strategic importance in his eyes. "Now it seems he really believes in this condition."

"It helps Netanyahu that it is very popular with the Israeli public," adds Amal Jamal, a politics professor at Tel Aviv University. “

One the one hand, it provides Netanyahu with an ideological basis for asserting Israeli claims to more areas of the West Bank that were intended to be in a future Palestinian state.

Last week it emerged that Netanyahu wants Kerry to add at least one more settlement, Beit El, near Ramallah, to the three so-called blocs - Ariel, Gush Etzion, and Maale Adumim - Israel has long demanded. Netanyahu recently stated that the settlements of Beit El and Hebron, which contain a few hundred settlers in the midst of a large Palestinian city, are "important to the Jewish people" because of their Biblical significance. He added that an "agreement cannot erase the state of Israel's rights or the rights of the Jewish people".

The other main advantage, says Ezrahi, is that it cements the inferior rights of Israel’s 1.5 million Palestinian citizens, a fifth of the total population.

Enshrining discrimination

He notes that Ehud Barak, who was prime minister when Israel and the Palestinians tried to negotiate a final status agreement at Camp David in 2000, insisted that the Palestinians sign an end-of-claims clause. "Netanyahu has done something much cleverer but more problematic. His demand for recognition implies the institutionalization of discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian minority."

That is in part because Israel’s Jewish self-definition, as Moshe Machover, a British-Israeli philosopher, has noted, is designed to enshrine it as the "state of the entire Jewish ‘nation’: Not just of its own Jewish citizens, but of all Jews everywhere".

That would entitle Jews anywhere in the world, even those without citizenship, access to greater rights inside Israel than those of citizens who belong to the Palestinian minority.

Zahalka takes a hard line on the recognition issue. "Some in the PA say they are happy not to interfere in how Israel defines itself. They think it is okay for Israel call itself whatever it wants. I don’t agree with that."

He says Israel’s current status as a Jewish state means that many of the Palestinian minority’s rights have been effectively revoked. "Lots of discriminatory laws and policies derive from the state’s Jewishness. The Palestinian leadership has no right to disqualify our struggle for equality."

Kerry is said to be considering a formulation to allay the fears of the country’s Palestinian citizens. Al-Ayyam newspaper reported that a clause might be inserted into an agreement recognizing Israel "as the nation-state of the Jewish people, without prejudice to the civil rights of Israeli Arabs". But Zahalka is not placated. "Israel’s Declaration of Independence says that the rights of non-Jewish citizens will be protected, but we know that in practice the promise was meaningless."

Ezrahi adds that Kerry may be under the impression that Israel would be willing to pass legislation to guarantee the equality of its Palestinians citizens. "In reality, I don’t see any indications that Netanyahu and the right would be prepared to do so."

As an indication of Netanyahu’s priorities, Zahalka points to a measure announced this month by the Israeli prime minister to raise the electoral threshold at the next election for parties to enter the Knesset, from 2 to 3.25 percent. Most observers believe one of his motives is to make it difficult for the small anti-Zionist parties popular with the Palestinian minority to win representation.

Jamal says Netanyahu has little to lose from continuing to push the recognition issue. "It puts the ball firmly in the Palestinians’ court. If they refuse, he can argue that it was they who sabotaged the peace process. They will then be the ones to face pressure from the US and Europe."

Like other analysts, Jamal sees little chance of the talks heading to an agreement, given how far apart the two sides are.

Netanyahu, even if he wanted to make a deal, has no political backing for it, he says. "Even if the far-right parties quit and the Labor and Meretz parties replaced them in the coalition, Netanyahu has the positions of his own Likud party to worry about. He simply has no room to make concessions on even the most minimal demands being made by the Palestinians."(
No peace without the establishment of the State and the right of return
Al-Dustuor Editorial
While Foreign Minister John Kerry is preparing for his eleventh visit to the area to narrow the differences between Israel and the Palestinians, we should note the Palestinian and Arab position, and the danger in passing over this position or in any attempt to empty it from its content, as Netanyahu is trying to do with a support from his ally Washington.
The main reason for the stalled negotiations over two decades, is the Zionist enemy rejection to recognize the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, particularly their right to self-determination and to establish their independent State on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and the return of refugees in accordance with resolution 194.
This was not enough, but the enemy exploited these negotiations, and used it as a Trojan Horse to impose facts on the ground through settlement and Judaization, so the number of settlements and settlers were doubled since the Oslo agreement in 1993 until today, the number of settlers became about half a million settlers spreadingdeath, destruction and desolation in the Palestinian territories.
In the same context, facts and events confirm that US support for the Zionist occupation is the main reason for the enemy’s rejecting to comply with the terms and requirements of the peace process, leading to its failure.
Kerry's attempt to drag the Palestinian Authority to the “Israeli square”, and impose pressed on it for recognition of the Jewish State of Israel, preparing to remove the right of return, and keep the enemy’s army in the Jordan Valley to control of the Palestinian crossings, will not succeed, it will be doomed to failure, as previous attempts failed because of US officials.
Experience has taught us that peace is possible only with solid unshakeable foundations, including the recognition of the national and historic rights of peoples, and their right to independence, freedom and right to their homeland and their holy sites, as provided for in international law, and any derogation from these rights means an incomplete peace that will not last, and will be considered as a time-bombs that will explode quickly.
In a nut shell: Kerry’s mission will not succeed unless it he took into consideration the national rights of the Palestinian people, namely the right to establish an independent State on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, the dismantling of settlements, and the return of refugees to their homeland in accordance with resolution 194. Any attempt to pass or derogate these principles will not succeed and will utterly fail and push the region into the unknown.(

… Rescue operation of those remaining in Al-Yarmouk refugee camp finally started
Al-Quds Editorial
Refugees in Al-Yarmouk camp in Damascussuffered in an intolerable and inhuman way from the repercussions of the war in Syria for nearly three years. They emigrated or were forced to emigrate again, tens of thousands of them who did not emigrate fell between the anvil of the opposition and hammer of the regime, many of them died of starvation and other eat grass meat of cats… The scenes of misery, hunger and suffering waked all live consciences and anyone who still has a shame.
The Palestinians public moved with all its factions in solidarity with their brothers in the camp, and marched and protested in more than one location, and in front of more than one international institution. The PLO and the PNA moved and sent delegations to Damascus and met with all those involved from the regime and opposition, reaching agreements that were not implemented, in addition to aid convoys that were unable to reach their goal. And so the tragedy continued until yesterday's agreement and the implementation of entering relief aid to the victims in the camp to save the lives of thousands, this relief work will continue, and we hope as all our people do, that the camp and aid convoys will not face any breaches or violations.
The main problem is that opposition militants entered the camp and regime troops began fighting them, then fighting escalated, in addition to the fact that a Palestinian side, small in size and influence, joined the regime forces exacerbating the crisis. It was agreed yesterday to spare the camp from any clashes or any interference in the internal Syrian Affairs.
Our people have suffered for previous known cases of revolutionsand their consequences, and from being involved in internal affairs of hosting States, and we paid and expensive price in all cases, the PLO and the PNA are fully committed not to interfere in internal affairs of any Arab State.
This must be adhered to by all factions and political powers, and the contrary always lead to devastating consequences for us, for our cause and for any support we can expect from the Arab brothers. We have the latest example of what is happening in Gaza now, as the regime in Egypt accuses Hamas of interfering in Egypt's internal affairs, which led to the siege of the Gaza Strip and extremely dangerous tension between Gaza and Egypt, all of this is despite Hamas leaders denying any such interference in Egyptian Affairs.
The breakthrough of the crisis in Al-Yarmouk refugee camp must lead to the return of all those who were forced to flee to new shelters and a new and tragic circumstances, displacement, misery and suffering. The Palestine Liberation Organization must continue its efforts to ensure the return of those who fled for the second or third time.(Al-Quds)
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