Tuesday, June 5

MCC Palestine Update #138

MCC Palestine Update #138

5 June 2007

A Summer of Transitions

This summer is indeed a new season for MCC Palestine. And with the change in season there are both greetings and farewells to be made. Sri Mayasandra, who has been the Jerusalem Representative for the past three years, has finished his assignment with MCC in Palestine. However, Sri has not said goodbye to MCC and will continue to serve with MCC in the Middle East.

Arriving in July, the Lehman family will move to Jerusalem where Heather and Ryan Lehman will assume the role of Jerusalem Representatives. Along with Heather and Ryan are their three children, two girls aged 11 and 8 and a 1-year-old boy—Tayllor, Elena, and Elijah. They are members of Kaufman Mennonite Church in Davidsville, PA.

Mark and Andrea Stoner Leaman are finishing up their time with MCC as English teachers in the Latin Patriarchate school in the northern West Bank village of Zebabdeh. Mark and Andrea, along with their baby Henry will be moving back to the Lancaster area in Pennsylvania later this month.

Christi and Timothy Seidel are also finishing up their time with MCC as peace development workers. They, along with their baby Kai, will be heading back to the U.S. this month as well. Jessica and Trey Hulsey will move to Bethlehem later this summer in August to take on the role of peace development workers. The Hulseys are most recently from North Carolina where they are attending a Presbyterian Church.

To Sri, Mark, Andrea, and Henry, know that you will all be missed. And to the Lehmans and Hulseys, Welcome! Ahlan wa-sahlan!

40 Years of Naksa / 60 Years of Nakba

This week marks 40 years of Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights. This anniversary comes on the heels of 60 years of Nakba, which will be marked next May in 2008.

Nakba is the Arabic word for “catastrophe” and is used by Palestinians to refer to what happened to them in 1948 when between 750,000 and 900, 000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes and over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed. Today, this refugee population numbers close to 7 million. Naksa is the Arabic word referring to the expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza during the 1967 war. It also marks the beginning of Israel’s illegal military occupation of these territories, another stage in a continuing catastrophe with daily military attacks, house demolitions, land confiscation, expanding Israeli colonies, and the Wall. This week, many are marking 40 years since the beginning of the occupation with events and declarations calling for the respect of human rights and rule of law in Palestine-Israel.

For more information on how you and your community can respond during this time, visit the MCC Washington Office website at http://www.mcc.org/us/washington/ for worship and advocacy resources and read a reflection by the Washington Office Director Daryl Byler at http://www.thirdway.com/wv/article.asp?ID=597.

Also, on June 10-11, the US Campaign to End the Occupation and United for Peace and Justice are sponsoring a two-day mobilization in Washington, DC to protest this 40th anniversary. Under the banner, “The World Says No to Israeli Occupation,” the US Campaign and UFPJ will hold a massive rally, teach-in, and grassroots lobbying day. Read more about how to get involved at http://www.endtheoccupation.org/.

To highlight the urgent need for peace in Palestine-Israel, the World Council of Churches, member churches and related organizations have organized a week of prayer and advocacy, June 3-9. According to the World Council of Churches, the goal is “to raise awareness in churches and civil society and to impress upon governments the need for new efforts to end the conflict and negotiate a just settlement.” Read more at http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?id=3627

Church leaders in Jerusalem are calling for worldwide support of this initiative. “This year marks the 40th anniversary of the occupation by the Israelis of land previously held by Palestinians,” said the Christian leaders. “It is totally unacceptable for the situation to continue where the Palestinians endure daily hardships and humiliations with deprivations of international human rights, allegedly to ensure the safety and security of the Israelis, whereas we believe the security of Israel is dependent on the freedom and justice of the Palestinians.”

In their statement they go on to say, “Now we sincerely believe it is time to intensify action, particularly through negotiation, to end occupation, establish an independent Palestinian State” consistent with UN resolutions and with clearly defined borders, “thus giving both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians alike, human dignity, security and equal opportunities”…“Many injustices have to be reversed not least the restoration of land to lawful indigenous owners and the so-called security wall demolished. For us as Christians, this land is unique since God chose to reveal his love for human beings here when he gave his Son to be born in Bethlehem; to die on the Cross.” Read more at “Jerusalem church leaders back Israeli-Palestinian peace action,” http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5307.

Peacebuilding in Palestine / Israel: Supporting Alternative Forms of Resistance – An Ongoing Discussion

Last month, a delegation of representatives from Mennonite Church USA and church-related agencies visited Palestine-Israel. This delegation was formed “to have common experience around issues that relate to investment policies.”

In 2005, MCC produced a discussion paper called “Peacebuilding in Palestine / Israel: A Discussion Paper” meant to contribute to this conversation in communities back in North America about stewardship, morally responsible investment / divestment, and economic justice. This paper (available online at http://www.mcc.org/papers/2005-05_Peacebuilding_in_Palestine-Israel.pdf) points out:

“Palestinians and Israelis working for a just resolution of the conflict lamented that decades of appeal to international law and resolutions have failed to end this story of dispossession, with Israeli power routinely trumping appeals to the power of law. Palestinian Christian partners, in particular, urged Christians in the West to take a stand for justice, peace, and reconciliation for Palestinians and Israelis alike, a stand that markedly differs from Christian Zionist theologies that deny Palestinians a secure place in the land. These trusted partner organizations urged MCC to consider ways in which Christians from Canada and the United States might invest in a future of justice and peace for both peoples and to examine ways in which our money either promotes justice, peace, and reconciliation in Palestine/Israel or contributes to the ongoing dispossession.”

Throughout this tour, this group met with many of MCC’s Palestinian and Israeli partners, including the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center (http://www.planet.edu/~alaslah/), the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center (http://www.sabeel.org/), the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (http://www.arij.org/), the Badil Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights (http://www.badil.org/), the Zochrot Association (http://www.nakbainhebrew.org/), the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (http://www.icahd.org/eng/), as well as meeting with people from Open Bethlehem (http://www.openbethlehem.org/) and Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron (http://www.cpt.org/). In these meetings, we heard their perspectives on the current realities on the ground and on how they see the role of churches in the Global North in this situation here in Palestine-Israel—particularly how it relates to the call from both Palestinians and Israelis for “morally responsible investment.”

In addition to this, the group made several field visits to see first-hand the reality on the ground, such as: the impact of the Wall and of Israeli colonization of Palestinian territory all around Jerusalem and in places like Hebron; the situation in Palestinian refugee camps; the remains of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948 and 1967, learning more about the importance of the refugee issue to a durable solution for a just and lasting peace.

An important element of this tour was to hear the voices of Palestinian Christian as it relates to these issues. For example, in our meeting with our friends at Sabeel we heard about their work and about how Sabeel is involved with the call for “morally responsible investment” (learn more at http://www.sabeel.org/documents/A%20nonviolence%20sabeel%20second%20revision.pdf).

As a follow-up to this experience, delegation participants have written an “open letter” to present at the Mennonite convention in San Jose this summer in which several action points are presented. Also, MCUSA will post a news release discussing the trip itself as well as the initiative of the open letter (http://www.mennoniteusa.org/news/news.html), and MCUSA is also going to produce a resource list to go along with the open letter and news release (http://peace.mennolink.org/resources/palestineletter/index.html).

We would ask that as you continue to keep the people of this land in your thoughts and prayers that you would prayerfully discuss these important issues in your communities, reflecting on how MCC and Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches should respond in our pursuit of a peace born of justice for all, where everyone will sit securely under vine and fig tree with no one to make them afraid (Micah 4:4).

MCC Palestine Online: Tools for Advocacy

Because of this time of transition, this will be the last MCC Palestine Update for a while. When the Lehmans and Hulseys get settled in to their new homes in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, we will look forward to continuing to receive these regular updates about the work of MCC and other news in Palestine-Israel. If you know anyone who might be interested in receiving these updates, please feel free to send their email to this same address: pwopt@mennonitecc.ca.

To stay updated on happenings in this region as well as the work of MCC’s partners, we would recommend you check out the MCC Palestine Update website at http://mccpalestineupdate.blogspot.com/ where you will find a list of links for “News and Analysis” as well as “MCC Palestine Partners” on the right-hand column of the webpage. For a more extended list, check out MCC Palestine Update #128 at http://mccpalestineupdate.blogspot.com/2006/11/mcc-palestine-update-128.html.

And as always, you can visit the MCC Palestine website at http://www.mcc.org/palestine/, where you will find additional links to MCC resources such as news service pieces and other publications we have mentioned in the past like Sonia Weaver’s What Is Palestine/Israel?: Answers to Common Questions, MCC Peace Office Newsletters, a Common Place magazine, the “Bridges Not Walls” Campaign, DVD’s like Children of the Nakba, The Dividing Wall, and more. Check out http://www.mcc.org/palestine/resources/ to access these resources to assist in education and advocacy in your home communities on behalf of the people of this land. Also, for current and back editions of the MCC Palestine Update, you can also visit http://mccpalestineupdate.blogspot.com/.

With all of these transitions, we should make a special note to say how thankful we are for the presence of our friend and colleague Bassem Thabet, who is the Director of Administration for MCC Palestine. And we are thankful for all of the wonderful people that contribute to the work of MCC here. It has truly been a pleasure and a privilege.

Allah ma’akum.

Peace to you all,

Timothy Seidel

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

Attachments and Links:

· Editorial, “Endless Occupation?,” The Nation, 18 June 2007
· Meron Benveisti, “The Case for Shared Sovereignty,” The Nation, 18 June 2007
· Saree Makdisi, “For a Secular Democratic State,” The Nation, 18 June 2007
· Brian Klug, “The State of Zionism,” The Nation, 18 June 2007
· Press Release, “Israel/OPT: Forty years of occupation -- no security without basic rights,” Amnesty International, 4 June 2007
· Donald Macintyre, “Secret memo shows Israel knew Six Day War was illegal,” The Independent, 26 May 2007
· Donald Macintyre, “The Six-Day War: Forty years on,” The Independent, 26 May 2007
· Mazin Qumsiyeh, “40 Year of Occupation and 60 Years of Wars: Enough,” AMIN, 2 June 2007


The Nation
Endless Occupation?
18 June 2007

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. It will not escape readers' notice that the three writers who reflect on the occasion in this issue, although coming from widely different backgrounds and perspectives--Meron Benvenisti is a native-born Israeli and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Saree Makdisi is a Palestinian-American academic and Brian Klug is a British (and Jewish) Oxford philosopher--express a similar pessimism regarding the two-state solution. Each of them favorably discusses some form of binational or democratic state in all of Israel-Palestine, whose citizens would have equal rights or shared sovereignty.

Nation editors didn't seek out these conclusions, nor do they represent a change in our policy. For many years this magazine has supported a two-state solution in which Israel would fully withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967, in accordance with UN resolutions, and a State of Palestine would be formed in those territories, with its capital in East Jerusalem. But we recognize that as realities on the ground shift, so must our thinking. Many have begun to wonder whether partition is still possible, given the growing settlements in the West Bank; the collapse of the peace process; the hardening of Israeli attitudes in the face of a second, bloody intifada; the descent of the Palestinian national camp into fratricide; and the unwillingness or inability of the Bush Administration to re-engage in serious peace talks or even to recognize the democratically elected Palestinian government…

All Americans, whatever their ethnicity or religion, are deeply implicated in what happens in Israel/Palestine, given our government's identification with and massive aid to Israel. The conflict is a Middle East crisis, but whether we like it or not, it is very much an American dilemma. No issue inflames opinion against the United States more than its support for Israel's policies toward the Palestinians, which has put us on a collision course with the Arab and Muslim world. We must therefore continually rethink our assumptions. We at The Nation see it as our task to further the debate by providing a forum for it and by exploring all creative solutions. As in the past, we adhere to a general principle that's more important than any particular state formation: The two peoples must be afforded the right to live in peace and dignity, on fully equal terms, whether in one state or two.

Please read more at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070618/editors2


The Nation
The Case for Shared Sovereignty
Meron Benveisti
18 June 2007

One must therefore seek a different paradigm to describe the state of affairs forty years after Israel/Palestine became one geopolitical unit again, after nineteen years of partition. The term `de facto binational state` is preferable to the occupier/occupied paradigm, because it describes the mutual dependence of both societies, as well as the physical, economic, symbolic and cultural ties that cannot be severed except at an intolerable cost. Describing the situation as de facto binational is not prescriptive but descriptive, and it does not indicate parity between Israelis and Palestinians--on the contrary, it stresses the total dominance of the Jewish-Israeli nation, which controls a Palestinian nation that is fragmented both territorially and socially. No paradigm of military occupation can reflect the bantustans created in the occupied territories, which separate a free and flourishing population that enjoys a gross domestic product of $26,000 per capita from a dominated population that is unable to shape its own future and whose GDP is $1,500 per capita. No paradigm of military occupation can explain how half the occupied areas have essentially been annexed, leaving the occupied population with disconnected lands and no viable existence. Only a strategy of annexation and permanent rule can explain the vast settlement enterprise and the enormous investment in infrastructure, estimated at more than $10 billion.

The 1967 war brought more than a million Palestinians under Israeli rule and gave new meaning to the Israeli mode of intimate disregard. The right wing stressed contempt for the Palestinian masses and believed they could be controlled through trickery and violence; the left wing dwelled futilely on theoretical peace plans and for the most part recoiled from any involvement in the unbearably harsh daily lives of the Palestinian population. Everyone amused themselves with `separation` proposals meant to externalize the `others,` and united around the slogan `Us here and them there,` whose physical manifest is the wall known as `the security fence,` built to conceal the Palestinians and erase them from awareness…

The process of mental disengagement is a continual one, but there is no doubt that the emergence of suicide bombers has hastened it. There could not be any intimate regard for a culture that nurtures such a monstrous phenomenon, and the Palestinians were thereby complicit in bringing about the divorce imposed upon them. Racist right-wing circles exploit the situation and turn diffuse emotions into a practical plan for `transfer` (i.e., expulsion) and denial of civil rights; human rights activists beg for resistance to the injustices and meet with indifference; political movements thrive on erasing the Arabs from Israeli awareness; and those who caution that it is all an illusion, that millions of human beings cannot be erased, are treated with hostility. Other conflicts have shown that after the erasure comes reconciliation, then appeals for forgiveness. But a preliminary stage in dealing with this problem that will not disappear is to expunge outmoded code words from the dictionary and deal bravely with the reality created by forty years of Israeli control over the entirety of Israel/Palestine. This land has witnessed the emergence of a geography, an economy and demographic, and social processes that no longer enable a division into two separate sovereignties. The alternatives are simple and cruel: Either one people controls the other, dooming them both to eternal violence, or else a way must be found to live in a partnership based on shared sovereignty.

Please read more at http://www.thenation.com/docprem.mhtml?i=20070618&s=benvenisti or http://www.kibush.co.il/show_file.asp?num=20330


The Nation
For a Secular Democratic State
Saree Makdisi
18 June 2007

This month marks the fortieth anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Four decades of control established and maintained by force of arms--in defiance of international law, countless UN Security Council resolutions and, most recently, the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice in The Hague--have enabled Israel to impose its will on the occupied territories and, in effect, to remake them in its own image.

The result is a continuous political space now encompassing all of historic Palestine, albeit a space as sharply divided as the colonial world ("a world cut in two") famously described by Frantz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth. Indeed, Fanon's 1961 classic still enables an analysis of Israel and the occupied territories as fresh, insightful and relevant in 2007 as the readings of Cape Town or Algiers that it made available when it was first published…

Although some people claim there are fundamental differences between the disposition of the territories Israel captured in 1967 and the territories it captured during its creation in 1948--or even that there are important moral and political differences between Israel pre- and post-1967--such sentiments of entitlement, and the use of force that necessarily accompanies them, reveal the seamless continuity of the Zionist project in Palestine from 1948 to our own time. "There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing," argues Israeli historian Benny Morris, with reference to the creation of Israel. "A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on."

Israel's post-1967 occupation policies are demonstrably driven by the same dispossessive logic. If hundreds of thousands have not literally been forced into flight, their existence has been reduced to penury. Just as Israel could have come into being in 1948 only by sweeping aside hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, Israel's ongoing colonization of Palestinian territory--its imposition of itself and its desires on the land's indigenous population--requires, and will always require, the use of force and the continual brutalization of an entire people.

Indeed, the discriminatory practices in the occupied territories replicate, albeit in a harsher and more direct form, those inside Israel, where the remnant of the Palestinian population that was not driven into flight in 1948--today more than a million people--continues to endure the systematic inequalities built into the laws and institutions of a country that explicitly claims to be the state of the Jewish people rather than that of its own actual citizens, about a fifth of whom are not Jewish. Recognizing the contradiction inherent in such a formulation, various Israeli politicians, including Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have explicitly called for the territorial transfer--if not the outright expulsion--of as much as possible of Israel's non-Jewish (that is, Palestinian) minority. Although it would be intended to mark the ultimate triumph of the dispossessing settler over the dispossessed native (Lieberman is an immigrant from Moldova who enjoys rights denied to indigenous Palestinians simply because he happens to be Jewish), such a gesture would actually amount to a last-ditch measure, an attempt to forestall what has become the most likely conclusion to the conflict.

For, having unified all of what used to be Palestine (albeit into one profoundly divided space) without having overcome the Palestinian people's will to resist, Zionism has run its course. And in so doing, it has terminated any possibility of a two-state solution. There remains but one possibility for peace with justice: truth, reconciliation--and a single democratic and secular state, a state in which there will be no "natives" and "settlers" and all will be equal; a state for all its citizens irrespective of their religious affiliation. Such a state has always, by definition, been anathema for Zionism. But for the people of Israel and Palestine, it is the only way out.

Please read more at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070618/makdisi or http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6994.shtml


The Nation
The State of Zionism
Brian Klug
18 June 2007

Zionism is not all of a piece. There are Zionists strongly opposed to the settlers and the occupation. But the momentum of the movement has brought it to this pass; the line that began in Basel has led to Nablus. It is time to cut the cord and begin anew. For the sake of everyone concerned, whether there are two states or three states or one, Israel needs to shed the burden of Jewish fears and hopes and become its own state pursuing its own good for its own people--all of them equally.

Jews around the world need Israel to do this too. They certainly do not need the kind of "protection" given by Olmert, who during the Lebanon war last summer said, "I believe that this is a war that is fought by all the Jews." He implicated the whole of Jewry in a military campaign that inflamed the opinion of millions of people around the world. Is this the "solution" to "the Jewish question"? Is this Israel coming to the rescue of Jews in distress?

The Zionist doctrine that the State of Israel must be the "center" of Jewish life, or that "every Jew in the world" (as Olmert said to the World Zionist Congress) must make aliyah, or that Jews are self-hating if they do not show "solidarity" with the Jewish state, or that Jewish identity in the Diaspora is incomplete--all of this prevents a normal conception of life, as a Jew, outside Israel. The very term "diaspora" is misleading. Israel certainly has one: At least 350,000 Israelis living in the New York area are part of it. But I (a British Jew or Jewish Brit), for example, am not.

At the heart of the crisis of Zionism is the axiom that Israel and the Jewish people are central to each other's identity. How do you pry apart a knot as closely knit as this--a Gordian knot that has no ends? Partly by remembering the venerable idea of the Jewish people as centered on a book--the Torah--and not a state; partly by observing how Jewish life, secular and religious, is flourishing in ways that are not focused on Israel; and partly by looking in an unexpected place: The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, where the principle of equality, like a shining light, burns a hole through the middle of the document.

The text proclaims "complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants." If someone wants to say that this is what they mean by Zionism, they are welcome to the word. To adapt a remark of Wittgenstein's: Say what you choose, so long as it does not prevent you from seeing the light. But on the whole, it is better to let go of the word along with the illusion. Jewish ethnic nationalism is no solution to the problems we face today, while the name "Zionism" evokes as much fear and loathing as love and pride. We cannot formulate today's questions in yesterday's language.

It is time to move on. I like to think that forty years from now, under the aegis of full civil equality, Arab and Hebrew cultures will thrive and mingle together in the area currently called Israel and Palestine. It seems like a pipe dream. But a phrase of Herzl's comes to mind: "Wenn ihr vollt, Ist es kein Märchen"--If you will it, it is not a dream. His motto gives us hope.

Please read more at http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070618/klug


Amnesty International
Israel/OPT: Forty years of occupation -- no security without basic rights
Press Release
4 June 2007

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Amnesty International today called on the Israeli authorities to end the land-grabbing, blockades and other violations of international law carried out under the occupation. These have resulted in widespread human rights abuses and have also failed to bring security to the Israeli and Palestinian civilian populations.

A 45-page report published today, Enduring Occupation: Palestinian under siege in the West Bank, illustrates the devastating impact of four decades of Israeli military occupation. The report documents the relentless expansion of unlawful settlements on occupied land that deprives the Palestinian population of crucial resources and documents a plethora of measures that confine Palestinians to fragmented enclaves and hinder their access to work, health and education facilities. These measures include a 700km fence/wall, more than 500 checkpoints and blockades, and a complicated system of permits.

"Palestinians living in the West Bank are blocked at every turn. This is not simply an inconvenience -- it can be a matter of life or death. It is unacceptable that women in labour, sick children, or victims of accidents on their way to hospital should be forced to take long detours and face delays which can cost them their lives," said Malcolm Smart, Director for Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

"International action is urgently needed to address the widespread human rights abuses being committed under the occupation, and which are fuelling resentment and despair among a predominantly young and increasingly radicalized Palestinian population," said Malcolm Smart. "For forty years, the international community has failed adequately to address the Israeli-Palestinian problem; it cannot, must not, wait another forty years to do so"…

Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to:
· lift the regime of blockades and restrictions on Palestinians in the OPT, which constitute collective punishment, and ensure that restrictions imposed in response to specific security threats only target the individuals concerned -- not entire communities.
· halt the construction of the fence/wall inside the West Bank, and remove the sections already built there;
· cease the construction or expansion of Israeli settlements and related infrastructure in the OPT as a first step towards removing Israeli settlements and "outposts";
· cancel all demolition orders on homes in the OPT, and provide reparation to Palestinians whose homes and properties have already been destroyed.

Please read more at http://news.amnesty.org/index/ENGMDE150382007 or http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6992.shtml and for a full copy of the report see http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde150332007


The Independent
Secret memo shows Israel knew Six Day War was illegal
Donald Macintyre
26 May 2007

A senior legal official who secretly warned the government of Israel after the Six Day War of 1967 that it would be illegal to build Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories has said, for the first time, that he still believes that he was right.

The declaration by Theodor Meron, the Israeli Foreign Ministry's legal adviser at the time and today one of the world's leading international jurists, is a serious blow to Israel's persistent argument that the settlements do not violate international law, particularly as Israel prepares to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the war in June 1967.

The legal opinion, a copy of which has been obtained by The Independent, was marked "Top Secret" and "Extremely Urgent" and reached the unequivocal conclusion, in the words of its author's summary, "that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

Judge Meron, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia until 2005, said that, after 40 years of Jewish settlement growth in the West Bank - one of the main problems to be solved in any peace deal: "I believe that I would have given the same opinion today."

Please read more at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/



The Independent
The Six-Day War: Forty years on
Donald Macintyre
26 May 2007

Forty years ago, Israel launched what is known as the Six-Day war. The fighting was short, sharp and bloody. But its poisonous legacy has lasted far longer. For this special report, Donald Macintyre visits the heart of the conflict

Less than a kilometre past the hillside olive groves of the sprawling Palestinian village of Sinjil, Dror Etkes turns left off route 60 as it dips and winds north through the terraced West Bank hills halfway between Ramallah and Nablus. He drives his white Mazda pick-up at alarming speed up a bumpy dirt road to the panoramic summit of what has been known for centuries in Arabic as Jebel Betin Halaweh but which is designated by the Israeli military the clinical name of Hill 804. A slight figure in his blue shirt, dark grey jeans, sunglasses and sandals, he parks the vehicle by the Army antenna, breathes in and announces with all the emphasis of the tour guide he once was: "We are now really in the heart of the ideological, religious, settlement movement."

It's easy to see what he means. We are in occupied Palestinian territory 21 kilometres east of the green line, which until the Six-Day War exactly 40 years ago denoted Israel's eastern border and in international law still does. On the windswept hilltops along a wide three-quarter circle to the west, north and east, the ridges are dominated by four Jewish settlements, the houses easily distinguishable from those in Palestinian villages by their red roofs, and eight of the satellite outposts, mainly consisting of up to 20 grey and functional container/caravans. Due west is Ma'ale Levona; to the north is Eli; to the east, just across Route 60, Shilo; and beyond it Shevut Rahel, founded in 1991 and named after a woman shot by Palestinian militants. And just south in the Shilo Valley is the open "industrial zone" with not a single factory on it, which along with the large municipal "jurisdictions" under their control mean that settlement-controlled land (including land previously cultivated by Palestinians) now accounts for 40 per cent of the West Bank.

Please read more at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/



40 Year of Occupation and 60 Years of Wars: Enough
Mazin Qumsiyeh
2 June 2007

Those who planned the 1967 "six day war" (Al-Naksa in Arabic) 40 years ago and we the people who lived there could not foresee its ramifications on lives of Israelis and Palestinians let alone Americans and Iraqis today. I was a 10-year old kid growing up in the Shepherd's field at the time the occupation began and my memories of the initial onslaught are vivid. After I immigrated to the US in 1979, I still go almost every year and still maintain residency there. I saw it get worse and worse every year from 1967 (and I dread my trip this summer). What can be said after 40 years of illegal occupation, after over 250,000 Israeli Jewish colonial settlers in the West Bank, after over 18,000 of our homes demolished, after causing massive economic dislocation (unemployment is at twice what it was for Americans during the Great depression), after over 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners now in Israeli jails, after over 10,000 fellow Palestinian civilians killed? What can be said after the remaining Palestinians are squeezed into shrinking ghettos after much of their best lands was confiscated? Should we focus on the price the occupiers also paid (especially since the introduction of the phenomenon of suicide bombings 10 years ago). Should we focus on the price the world has paid including the unfolding tragedy in Iraq (and now the Israel lobby is pushing for a war on Iran)? How about the over $1 trillion that Israel cost the US in these 40 years?

Please read more at http://www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=13768&CategoryId=5 or http://www.amin.org/look/amin/en.tpl?IdPublication=7&NrIssue=1&NrSection=3&NrArticle=



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