Wednesday, April 19

MCC Palestine Update #120

MCC Palestine Update #120

19 April 2006

In the Aftermath of Elections: Democracy, Unilateralism, and Violence…

Following both recent Palestinian and Israeli elections, discussion over the future for all of the people of this land has brought great uncertainty. One of those uncertainties that affects both Israelis and Palestinians is in the question over what does the “two-state” solution mean in the context of Israeli unilateralism?

Regardless of where one stands in the “one-state solution” vs. “two-state solution” debate, what is abundantly clear and what is important to see is what the language of “two-states” has come to actually mean, realistically, on the ground, and what its consequences will be for Palestinians. Due to the dynamics of power, etc., what matters at this point in the conversation is the meaning that the state of Israel gives to the language of “two states,” and that has been most recently articulated by new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with his “convergence plan” to unilaterally set the borders of Israel by 2010 (“Olmert: Convergence to be completed within 18 months,”; “Olmert: Convergence to cost USD 10 billion,”,7340,L-3239420,00.html; “Olmert to 'Post': Israel to have final borders by 2010,” )—which will also, to speak to another language problem, essentially “end the occupation” in a manner not unlike that one used to describe the situation in Gaza post-“disengagement,” described by many as the largest prison in the world (“One Big Prison: Freedom of Movement to and from the Gaza Strip on the Eve of the Disengagement Plan,”

In this version of the language of “two states”: “the state of Israel” essentially equals formally annexing all major colonies in the West Bank, including “greater Jerusalem” and the Jordan Valley, with control over all of historical Palestine (fulfilling the vision of Ariel Sharon, et al, of “maximum territory, minimum Arabs”) and “the state of Palestine” essentially equals several isolated islands of land on roughly 40 to 50 percent of the occupied West Bank with Palestinians confined to these “reservations,” which will be rendered “contiguous” by a network of tunnels—completely unrealistic and completely unviable. The fact that it is Israel's understanding of what “two states” means that truly matters—and that must be challenged—was emphasized by recent comments emerging from the U.S. State Department that affirmed Israeli unilateralism. Though still trying to keep the “Road Map” and its understanding of negotiations afloat, both U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. ambassador to Israel Richard Jones have already voiced acquiescence (“Rice hints at support for Israeli unilateral withdrawals,”; “US ‘open’ to Israel borders plan,”; “Envoy: U.S. supports road map but understands unilateral move,” Haaretz, Looking back on how the U.S. has postured itself in the past regarding moves Israel has made, even this little hint of potential support points to a trajectory that will lead to the concretizing of apartheid in this land. It is this lack of a realistic perspective of events that clouds the language of “two states.” And language is very important here to maintaining a status quo that will continue to mean “insecurity” for Israelis and dispossession and death for Palestinians.

We would encourage you to visit websites such as, where advocacy campaigns are being organized to challenge the attempts made to isolate and collectively punish the Palestinian people by: restricting humanitarian aid, designating Palestinian territory as a “terrorist sanctuary,” prohibiting official Palestinian diplomacy or representation in the United States, targeting the UN for supporting Palestinian human rights, and denying Palestinians the ability to receive assistance through international financial institutions. “The United States says that it is committed to promoting democracy. If that is indeed the case, it is inappropriate for Members of Congress to advance legislation that would punish and isolate people through draconian economic and diplomatic measures when the result of an election is not to the liking of the United States” (

“Nakba in Hebrew”: Zochrot at Canada Park and Deir Yassin

This past month, MCC partner the Zochrot Association ( was successful in their petition to the Israeli high court to post signs in Canada Park, an Israeli recreational area outside of Jerusalem. These signs tell the story of the Palestinian villages of ‘Imwas and Yalu that once stood in what is today a park. ‘Imwas and Yalu were just two of over 500 Palestinian villages that were destroyed and ethnically cleansed and their 3,700 residents among the 700,000 to 900,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes since 1948. Though most do not realize it, these residents, who now live either in or around the Palestinian city of Ramallah or in the country of Jordan east of Palestine, experienced their dispossession at the hands Israeli occupation forces following the war in 1967 (,

The Israeli high court ruled that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) had to post two new signs in Canada Park marking the villages of ‘Imwas and Yalu. The signs mention the number of inhabitants in each village and where their refugees live today. These signs are the result of a long struggle between Zochrot and the civil administration of the occupation and the JNF. Zochrot sees this as a great victory in their work to educate Israeli society about the Nakba or Catastrophe of 1948. “We believe that this is a beginning for the possibility to officially mark Palestinian destroyed locations by Israeli state authorities” (for more information and pictures, see as well as “Searching for a sign,”

Also in April, Zochrot held a remembrance ceremony at the site of Deir Yassin. The Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, destroyed and depopulated in 1948, was home to about 750 Palestinians, 100 of whom were systematically killed by advancing Zionist forces, becoming an example to the rest of the Palestinian villages not yet destroyed to concede for fear of meeting a similar end (; This year’s ceremony and posting of signs was the fourth year in a row that Zochrot has organized such a remembrance (

“Rebuilding and Resistance”

Recently the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) announced its plans for another work camp this summer, from July 15th to July 30th, to rebuild a Palestinian home in the Occupied Territories demolished by the Israeli authorities. This house, in the town of Anata right outside of Jerusalem, is the home of the Hamdan family, demolished by the Israeli authorities on December 21, 2005. ICAHD recognizes that “While the rebuilding is symbolic in terms of the need, it is a powerful statement of political resistance to the occupation. Not only is it an act of defiance, of civil disobedience, but it gets to the very heart of the conflict: the ongoing process of dispossessing and displacing the Palestinian people from its land and its patrimony.”

In their announcement, titled “Rebuilding and Resistance” (, ICAHD describes the history of home demolitions as a policy widely and systematically applied for stated reasons of deterrence or punishment, but that has been intended primarily to either drive the Palestinians from the country altogether and thus “reclaim” their land for the Jewish people, or to confine them to tiny enclaves. House demolitions, which occur frequently on both sides of the “Green Line” and have left tens of thousands of families homeless, have stood at the center of Israel’s approach to “the Arab problem” since the state’s conception.

In these acts of resistance, ICAHD states that “we, as Israelis, are acknowledging the rights of both people to share the country. We are affirming our recognition that Palestinian claims carry equal authority to our own. And when Palestinians join us in the rebuilding activities – the families whose home have been demolished, their friends and neighbors, the entire local community and activists from throughout Palestinian society – we are together proclaiming clearly and loudly: We refuse to be enemies!”

See ICAHD’s website at for more information on how you can help in this work as well as for more information on the stages of Israel’s demolition campaign over the years.

“Palestine Summer Encounter 2006”

MCC Palestine partner Holy Land Trust ( has also announced another of their summer programs, “Palestine Summer Encounter 2006,” a service learning and cultural immersion program. Participants in this program will live with a local family, study Arabic and volunteer with a local church, school, hospital, nonprofit or humanitarian organization. They will also have an opportunity to visit significant organizations and sites of historic, political and religious significance such as Jerusalem, Jericho, the Galilee, Hebron, Nazareth and the Dead Sea. Participants can join the program for 1, 2 or 3 months. Additional information can be found at:

Lent and Easter in the “Holy Land”

Il-Masiih qaam.
Haqqan qaam.

Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed.

As the Orthodox Lenten season comes to an end, we cannot help but reflect with our Palestinian friends and neighbors on what it means to celebrate Easter in the midst of despair. The season of Lent always seems more appropriate than that of Easter. And yet, ours is an Easter faith. Here, it is a constant source of struggle to rediscover from where our hope comes from. Zoughbi Zoughbi, our good friend and partner at the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center (, has described it as moving along the Stations of the Cross. “We know that the end, the final station brings resurrection and the new life that conquers death. But we just do not know which station we are on right now.”

During this Easter season, would you reflect on the historical realities of this land and struggle as well with those who would seek to know how to proclaim the light and life of resurrection to those living under the darkness of oppression?

Peace to you all,

Timothy and Christi Seidel
Peace Development Workers
Mennonite Central Committee – Palestine

Attachments and Links:

· Gideon Levy, “Who is a terrorist?,” Haaretz, 16 April 2006
· Jeff Halper, “Elections in Palestine and Israel: Sumud vs Apartheid,” IMEMC, 15 April 2006
· “Olmert: Convergence to be completed within 18 months,” Haaretz, 14 April 2006
· Amira Hass, “Convergence to a border of convenience,” Haaretz, 5 April 2006
· Akiva Eldar, “Coming soon: Kosovo in Gaza?,” Haaretz, 4 April 2006
· Robert Fisk, “Another brick in the wall,” The Independent, 2 April 2006
· Jeff Halper, “The Power of Saying No,” ICAHD, 20 March 2006
· Ismail Haniyeh, “A just peace or no peace,” The Guardian, 31 March 2006
· Leigh Brady, “Don't worry - it's just another Palestinian child's death,” Electronic Intifada, 31 March 2006
· Mitchell Plitnick, “The Dangerous Center: Making sense of the Israeli elections,” Jewish Voice for Peace Newsletter, Spring 2006
· John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books, 23 March 2006
· Chris McGreal, “Israel sets four year deadline to draw final borders,” The Guardian, 10 March 2006


Who is a terrorist?
Gideon Levy

16 April 2006

The scenes from Gaza are heartbreaking. Heartbreaking? That's not for certain. The sight of the Aben family from Beit Lahiya mourning its 12-year-old daughter Hadil last week did not stir any particular shock in Israel. Nor did anyone take to the streets and protest over the sight of her wounded mother and little brother lying in shock on the floor of their shanty in Gaza.

On the day Hadil Aben was killed, Yedioth Aharonoth carried a story about Nelly, the dog from Kibbutz Zikim that died of heart failure from the booming noise of the Israeli artillery firing into Gaza.

Instead of expressions of sorrow at the death of children, the upper echelons of the defense establishment came out with a stream of strident statements. The defense minister said that the only thing to do was step up the pressure on the Palestinians. The deputy chief of staff spoke about a possible invasion of Gaza and the head of army operations added, "what we've seen so far are only the previews." The IDF announced it would further reduce the "safety range" that is designed to avoid shells hitting the civilian population.

It was a chilling, united chorus. Israel is dropping thousands of bombs on towns and villages, on the "the launching pads" of the Qassams - another dubious term created by the defense establishment and blindly adopted by the press - and only the Palestinians, whose Qassam rockets haven't killed anyone since the disengagement, are called "terrorists"…

Those who really want to end the Qassam launches from Gaza, should turn Israeli policy upside down. To show restraint in the face of the Qassams, to lift the siege, to immediately meet with the elected Palestinian leadership and call on the world to stop withholding the funds from the Palestinian Authority. Only a free and secure and thriving Gaza will stop launching Qassams. Have we ever tried that?

Please


International Middle East Media Center
Elections in Palestine and Israel: Sumud vs. Apartheid
Jeff Halper

15 April 2006

Of course, Olmert's plan was presented with a positive spin characterized by terminology to do Orwell proud. Hitkansut or 'withdrawing into oneself' in Hebrew is the operational phase of 'separation' from the Palestinians, and seems exactly what the public wanted (a full 85% of Israeli Jews support the construction of the Wall, or 'Separation Barrier'). Perhaps that is the reason it generated no public discussion, no dissent and ended up a non-issue. It does not mean, however, withdrawal of Israel back to its pre-1967 territory, but rather a 'convergence' of Israeli settlers scattered throughout the West Bank into Israel's major settlement blocs. Though the idea of leaving territories densely populated by Palestinians sounds good to Israeli Jews, it really means apartheid. And it will be imposed unilaterally because Israel has nothing to offer the Palestinians. True, they get 70-85% of the Occupied Territories, but only in truncated enclaves. Israel retains control of all the borders, Palestinian movement among the cantons, all the water and the richest agricultural land, the large settlement blocs including "greater" Jerusalem (which accounts for 40% of the Palestinian economy), the Palestinians' airspace and even their communications. Indeed, Israel retains all the developmental potential of the country, leaving the Palestinians with only barren and disconnected enclaves. Israel expands onto 85% of the entire country, leaving the Palestinians - the majority population or soon to be - with only about 15%, and that truncated, non-viable and only semi-sovereign. A Bantustan a la apartheid South Africa.

What the outside world considers important - the conflict with Palestinians, Occupation, the Wall, settlements, possibilities for peace - are non-issues in Israel. Most Israeli Jews agree that (1) the Palestinians don't want peace, (2) therefore there is no political solution to the conflict, (3) separation is the best course and thus (4) Israel must keep all of Jerusalem and its major settlements. There is simply nothing to discuss. The entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been reduced, for Israeli Jews, to one technical issue: how do we manage terrorism and secure our personal security…

Knowing that the conflict is too destabilizing for the global system to let fester, the Palestinians are saying: We will remain sumud, steadfast. Impose on us an apartheid system, blame us for the violence while ignoring Israeli State Terror, pursue your programs of American Empire or your self-righteous notion of a 'clash of civilizations' - we Palestinians will not submit. We will not cooperate. We will not play your rigged game. And in the end your power will be for naught. So costly will we make this conflict to Israel, the US and the international community that you will come to us to sue for peace. We will be ready for a just peace that respects the rights of all the peoples of the region, including the Israelis. But you will not beat us.

Please


Olmert: Convergence to be completed within 18 months

14 April 2006

Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert said in an interview published this week that he intends to complete his plan to withdraw from parts of the West Bank within 18 months.

Olmert told the Wall Street Journal that he plans to complete coalition talks within two weeks and begin planning the withdrawal in detail the moment a government is formed. His first step will be to appoint a team of experts, including military, political and economic advisers, to outline the withdrawal.

Olmert added that during his first visit to Washington next month he plans to ask for the international community's help in funding the pullout, which the newspaper estimated would cost over NIS 46 billion.

Olmert declared that his plan "will change the face of the region," and vowed not to miss this opportunity. He rejected any division of Jerusalem as a move that would "not bring peace, only more fighting," but did not rule out the possibility that some Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem would be under control of a future Palestinian state.

Please


Convergence to a border of convenience
Amira Hass

5 April 2006

For the "convergence" plan to be presented to the Western world as a giant concession worthy of praise, the dimensions of Jewish support for the "vision of the Greater Land of Israel" must be inflated. But if the Greater Land of Israel really were the top priority for the Jewish citizenry of Israel, then there wouldn't be fewer than 10,000 settlers in the Jordan Valley. Tens of thousands would be rushing to expand Ma'aleh Ephraim and the farming settlements, so the lights of the eastern sector of the Greater Land would shine and twinkle like the lights of the western sector of the Jordanian kingdom.

Israel made sure during the years of the Oslo negotiations, as in the preceding years, to leave that enormous area blocked to any Palestinian development and wide open to any Israeli development. The somewhat difficult living conditions (heat, distance to the center of the country) would not have deterred the masses of Israelis. If every clod of the Greater Land of Israel indeed held an impassioned emotional attraction for the Jewish citizens of Israel, they would not have needed economic incentives to live in the areas conquered in 1967. They would have gone to settle the most distant hilltops and not made do with settlements "five minutes from Kfar Sava." They would not have needed seductive advertising about one-family villas on their own plot of land. On the contrary, they would have encouraged the state and the contractors to build apartment blocs. There wouldn't be 420,000 Jewish setters (including occupied East Jerusalem) but rather 2 million.

What drew the Jewish Israelis - and turned nearly half a million of them into outlaws under international law - were not the clods of holy land but comfortable lives promised to them by Israeli military supremacy, the spacious inexpensive housing and the improved infrastructure. Those were precisely the subsidies and incentives that they didn't get inside the sovereign state. The convergence, therefore, is the borders drawn by the average Israeli Jew's aspirations for comfort and convenience.

These would be natural ambitions if they did not come at the expense of the Palestinians as individuals and as a people. But average Israelis, including those who are not settlers, are not troubled by such trifle matters like international law, basic moral values and the welfare and convenience of the Palestinians. After all it is precisely the settlement blocs and the area between the separation fence and the Green Line that cut into the West Bank, take its water and fertile farming resources, separate Palestinian communities and obstruct all natural and logical geographic and demographic contiguity. These areas, and it doesn't matter if the convergence is 28 percent of the West Bank or "only" 13.5 percent, have caused and will cause irreversible damage to Palestinian society and to individual Palestinians. But that's not what bothers average Israelis and their representatives in Kadima, Labor and the Pensioners Party. These facts slip through the consciousness and are buried, like hundreds of Palestinian villages whose names do not appear on the road signs along the settlers' highways.

Please


Coming soon: Kosovo in Gaza?
Akiva Eldar

4 April 2006

At working levels of the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry they know that the wolf is already here, at Gaza's gate. Ever since the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, international aide agency representatives have been warning of a humanitarian disaster and the world, including Israel, keeps going its merry way. A few days ago, David Shearer, the head of the office of the United Nations Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the territories, told the Foreign Ministry that in order to understand what he was talking about, they should remember the pictures of the Galaxy aircraft in the airlift to Kosovo. Shearer, like his colleagues at the World Bank and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and representatives of donor countries, formed the impression that the officials and the officers were persuaded that state leaders were behaving like the crew of the Titanic who continued to dance all the way to the bottom of the ocean.

At the bureau of Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, they also know the avian influenza is not going to wait until politicians have time to spare from the last chapter of the "celebration of democracy" and place their hands on the wheel. The people of Kerem Shalom have learned on the flesh of their own poultry that viruses do not recognize the disengagement and have not heard about the convergence. After the sick fowl, will come the dead babies. Several patients with symptoms of bird flu have shown up at the Gaza hospitals.

In an opinion published on March 24, the Stratfor institute stated there was no way of knowing the virus' next move, but if there was a risk it would undergo a mutation constituting a danger to the human race - it would happen in places like the Gaza Strip. At the moment, the great power is more frightened by the risk that the money intended for the owners of poultry will get into the hands of the Hamas government. When the United States declares a boycott of Palestinian Authority people, the banks are in no hurry to open their coffers to them. Not to mention the government of Israel. Although the World Bank has promised to raise the missing $2 million, large institutions grind slowly. Much more slowly than violent viruses.

Please


The Independent
Another brick in the wall
Robert Fisk

2 April 2006

We have been conned again. The Israeli elections, we are told, mean that the dream of "Greater Israel" has finally been abandoned. West Bank settlements will be closed down, just as the Jewish colonies were uprooted in Gaza last year. The Zionist claim to all of Biblical Israel has withered away. Likud, the nightmare party of Menachem Begin and Benjamin Netanyahu, has been smashed by the Gaullist figure of the dying Ariel Sharon, whose Kadima party now embraces Ehud Olmert and that decaying symbol of the Israeli left, Nobel prizewinner Shimon Peres. This, at least, is the narrative laid down by so many of our journalists, "analysts" and "commentators". But it is a lie.

Only in paragraph two - or three or four - of the grovelling news reports from the Middle East do we read that Olmert's not very impressive election victory will allow him to "redraw" the "frontiers" of Israel, a decision described as "controversial" - the usual get-out clause of newspapers that wish to avoid the truth: that Israel is about to grab more land and claim it to be part of the state of Israel. Yes, true, the smaller and more vulnerable Jewish colonies illegally built on Palestinian-owned land may be abandoned - stand by for more of the grief and tears which we witnessed in Gaza. But the rest - the great semi-circle of concrete that runs around east Jerusalem, for example - will not be depopulated…

If the Israelis want Hamas to acknowledge the state of Israel, then Hamas should be expected to acknowledge the state of Israel that exists within its legal frontiers - not the illegal borders now being dreamt up by Olmert. We will have to abandon the idea that Ariel Sharon - an unindicted war criminal after his involvement in the 1982 Sabra and Chatila massacres - was really going to give up the major Jewish colonies built illegally on Arab land or the illegal annexation of Jerusalem. Certainly Olmert is not going to do that. He is going to create wider frontiers for Israel and steal - let's call a spade a spade - more Arab land in doing so. The US will go along with this next illegal land-grab. But will the EU? Will the UN? Will Russia? Will our own dear Tony Blair?

Israelis deserve peace and security as much as Palestinians. But "new" and expanded "controversial" Israeli frontiers will not bring peace or security to either.

Please


Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
The Power of Saying No
Jeff Halper

20 March 2006

As the new Hamas government is sworn into power in the Palestinian Authority, we might ask: What would bring a people, the most secular of Arab populations with little history of religious fundamentalism, to vote Hamas? Mere protest at Fatah ineffectualness in negotiations and internal corruption doesn't go far enough. While warning Hamas that their vote did not constitute a mandate for imposing an Iran-like theocracy on Palestine, the Palestinians took the only option left to a powerless people when all other avenues of redress have been closed to them: non-cooperation.

Gandhi put it best: "How can one be compelled to accept slavery? I simply refuse to do the master's bidding. He may torture me, break my bones to atoms and even kill me. He will then have my dead body, not my obedience. Ultimately, therefore, it is I who am the victor and not he, for he has failed in getting me to do what he wanted done. Non-cooperation is directed not against the Governors, but against the system they administer. The roots of non- cooperation lie not in hatred but in justice"…

Indeed, the vote for Hamas was not a closing of the door at all, but a rational, intentional and powerful statement of non-cooperation in a political process that is only leading to Palestinian imprisonment. Hamas, if anything, stands for steadfastness, sumud, the refusal to submit. This conflict is too destabilizing to the entire global system to let fester, the Palestinians are saying. You can all impose upon us an apartheid system, blame us for the violence while ignoring Israeli State Terror, pursue your programs of American Empire or your notions of a "clash of civilizations," we the Palestinians will not submit. We will not cooperate. We will not play your rigged game. In the end, for all your power, you will come to us to sue for peace. And then we will be ready for a just peace that respects the rights of all the peoples of the region, including the Israelis. But you will not beat us.

As an Israeli Jew who sees how the Occupation has eroded the moral foundations of my society and, indeed, my entire people, and as a resident of Israel-Palestine who knows that my fate is intricately intertwined with that of the Palestinians, I pray that such an end will come sooner rather than later.

Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Please


The Guardian
A just peace or no peace
Ismail Haniyeh

31 March 2006

Israeli unilateralism is a recipe for conflict - as is the west's racist refusal to treat Palestinians as equals

Do policymakers in Washington and Europe ever feel ashamed of their scandalous double standards? Before and since the Palestinian elections in January, they have continually insisted that Hamas comply with certain demands. They want us to recognise Israel, call off our resistance, and commit ourselves to whatever deals Israel and the Palestinian leadership reached in the past.

But we have not heard a single demand of the Israeli parties that took part in this week's elections, though some advocate the complete removal of the Palestinians from their lands. Even Ehud Olmert's Kadima party, whose Likud forebears frustrated every effort by the PLO to negotiate a peace settlement, campaigned on a programme that defies UN security council resolutions. His unilateralism is a violation of international law. Nevertheless no one, not even the Quartet - whose proposals for a settlement he continues to disregard, as his predecessor Ariel Sharon did - has dared ask anything of him.

Olmert's unilateralism is a recipe for conflict. It is a plan to impose a permanent situation in which the Palestinians end up with a homeland cut into pieces made inaccessible because of massive Jewish settlements built in contravention of international law on land seized illegally from the Palestinians. No plan will ever work without a guarantee, in exchange for an end to hostilities by both sides, of a total Israeli withdrawal from all the land occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem; the release of all our prisoners; the removal of all settlers from all settlements; and recognition of the right of all refugees to return.

Please read more at,,1743652,00.html


Electronic Intifada
"Don't worry - it's just another Palestinian child's death"
Leigh Brady

31 March 2006

On 18 March 2006, I visited a grieving family in Al Yamun, a town in the northern West Bank. Their 7-year old daughter had been murdered the night previously by Israeli Border Police, who had entered the town to arrest "wanted" Palestinian militants in a raid led by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Her name was Akaber Adbelrahman Zaid and she was on her way to a doctor's clinic to have stitches removed from her chin. Instead she received a barrage of bullets to the head, when an undercover Border Police unit opened fire on the car in which she was travelling with her uncle.

An IDF spokesperson said the police had thought that the wanted militants were trying to escape in the car and thus fired shots at the wheels as a deterrent. Akaber's uncle said it was obvious that the only people in the car were himself and a small child, adding that the policemen had fired at close range. A Ha'aretz reporter inspected the car afterwards and found that all four tyres were still intact. For a specially trained unit of sharpshooters to fire at the wheels of a vehicle from a short distance and miss their target completely seems a little dubious, to say the least.

Akaber joins the ranks of over 700 other Palestinian children to be killed by Israeli security forces since September 2000. Who will take responsibility for her death? Who shall be held accountable?

Please


Jewish Voice for Peace Newsletter
The Dangerous Center: Making sense of the Israeli elections
Mitchell Plitnick

Spring 2006

What Kadima is planning is nothing less than the devastation of the Palestinians, on a scale only hinted at in recent years. A glimpse of what would be in store if Olmert carries out his plan was seen just last week in the Gaza Strip. Reports of a terrorist attack (how reliable, no one can say) gave Israel the excuse to close all the crossings in and out of Gaza to all goods. After weeks of being unable to bring in such basic staples as flour and grain, bakeries in the Strip closed by the hundreds, unable to bake any goods. Gazans faced starvation, not in the long term, but immediately. The international community and, most importantly, the United States stepped in to pressure Israel into opening the Karni Crossing to material goods. Complete disaster was averted, but the Strip remains hungry and unsustainable, with its access to the outside world under the absolute control of Israel. This is not an end to occupation.

The situation in Gaza is a preview of things to come if Olmert brings his West Bank plans to fruition. Palestinians there will also be completely surrounded by Israel, in isolated cantons that will be unable to sustain themselves. That’s what comes from the Israeli “centrist” party. What the right would do is barely imaginable. And unless something truly centrist can come from the tattered remains of an Israeli left, the bitterness of conflict is going to be entrenched for years to come.

What is needed from Israel, and what must be encouraged by Americans who care for the fate of all people in Israel and Palestine, is an abandonment of unilateralism and the acknowledgment that it is unrealistic to expect Palestinians, whether from Fatah, Hamas or any other party, to be partners in their own dispossession. Do not expect any Palestinian to work with Israel to support Israel keeping the Jordan Valley, or keeping the settlement blocs without fully equivalent compensation and provisions to maintain Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank. Most of all, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority must be looking for reasons to build relationships, not reasons to refuse to talk to each other.

Please


London Review of Books
The Israel Lobby
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt

23 March 2006

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.
Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.

Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.

Please


The Guardian
Israel sets four year deadline to draw final borders
Chris McGreal

10 March 2006

Israel's acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has said the country will draw its final borders within four years without consulting the Palestinians if Hamas does not recognise the Jewish state.

Mr Olmert, who is strongly favoured to win a general election in three weeks, told the Jerusalem Post that by 2010 he intended to "get to Israel's permanent borders, whereby we will completely separate from the majority of the Palestinian population and preserve a large and stable Jewish majority in Israel".

He did not specify the route of the new frontier, which he said would be decided after an "internal dialogue inside Israel" and consultations with Israel's foreign allies. But he repeated his intention to annex the main settlement blocks in the West Bank and retain control of the Jordan river area "as a security border", resulting in a Palestinian state entirely surrounded by territory under Israeli control…

The plan outlined by Mr Olmert would require the removal of about 60,000 Israelis from settlements deeper inside the West Bank but leave about 350,000 in the main blocks and East Jerusalem.
Mr Olmert said he would give Hamas a "reasonable" amount of time to meet demands to recognise the Jewish state, renounce violence and accept existing agreements signed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). "We will wait, but I don't intend to wait forever," he said. "If after a reasonable time passes it becomes clear that the PA is not willing to accept these principles, we will need to begin to act."

Please read more at,,1727892,00.html


No comments: