Archive for the 'Articles' Category

Jul 23 2014

Israel warms to Abbas as Gaza mediator

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The role of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a possible mediator and guarantor of any long-term Hamas-Israeli cease-fire has returned to the forefront of current diplomatic discussions. Abbas’ political resurrection is more the result of there being no other credible mediator than something of his own doing. What appears to have been the main cause of the war on Gaza — the reconciliation between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas — now appears to offer the potential to end the Israeli assault on the Palestinians.

The major problem facing Israel and the international community is that they need the acquiescence of the Islamic movement for any sustained cease-fire, yet they refuse, for political reasons to communicate, recognize or seriously engage with Hamas. The problem began when the Egyptian government, which has a peace treaty with Israel, offered a cease-fire agreement to Hamas via the media — that is, without even consulting the Gaza-based group. Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has blamed Hamas for the security troubles Cairo faces in the Sinai Peninsula and has been reluctant to lend Hamas the credibility it needs for a truce and vouch for or give any long-term guarantees about Hamas to the Israelis.

Other possible guarantors, such as Qatar and Turkey, have been rejected by Israel. Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, viciously attacked the Qataris and called for banning their flagship satellite station, Al Jazeera. As for Turkey — which has yet to fully restore ties with Israel after the killing of nine of its citizens by the Israeli navy in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident — Ankara has been rejected because of, among other things, statements by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan referring to Israeli actions in Gaza as “more barbaric than Hitler.” Continue Reading »

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Jul 19 2014

Images of Gaza war shift perception of Israel

AlMonitor By Daoud Kuttab

War is often remembered by images. Who can forget the photograph of the Vietnamese girl running naked down a road after being exposed to US napalm bombs? Or the American sailor kissing an anonymous nurse in Times Square following the announcement of the end of World War II? For the current war on Gaza, two images that have gone viral and the stories behind them are reflective of the real price of war in terms of human suffering, unbridled hate and revenge.

Summary⎙ Print Decisions by media networks to censor their reporters in Gaza will not prevent the truth of Israeli actions from emerging.
Author Daoud KuttabPosted July 18, 2014

The first image is of a young man carrying a dead Palestinian boy on the beach in Gaza and the tweet by NBC reporter Ayman Mohyeldin that he had just been playing soccer with the slain child and the three others killed along with him. The boys, ages 9, 10 and 11, were attacked by the Israeli navy for no reason other than they lived in the overcrowded and besieged Gaza Strip. Continue Reading »

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Jul 19 2014

Public outraged over Gaza, but Arab governments stay silent

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

While the conflict on Gaza is physically limited to the Israeli army and Gaza-based resistance movements, the war and its aftermath will have a much larger geopolitical impact. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has a way of unifying warring groups and opposing parties, especially among countries that have witnessed injustice and people who feel for the underdog.

In the Arab world, impromptu demonstrations have taken place in most Arab capitals in support of the people of Gaza. Around the world in locations as far away as South Africa, Chile, Indonesia, Japan and London, demonstrations have taken place in solidarity with the Palestinians.

South Africans have begun a campaign demanding the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. On social media, various groups have organized global hashtag campaigns such as #gazaunderattack that have trended across the world.

The Arab media, which has been divided over issues such as Egypt and Syria, appears united in representing the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and exposing the Israeli actions as an assault on a trapped and besieged population. Continue Reading »

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Jul 17 2014

Israel denies American teaching volunteers entry to West Bank

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

A group of American volunteers sponsored by the American Federation of Ramallah were denied entry into Palestine by Israeli border officers at the King Hussein Bridge on July 8. Tour leader Terry Ahwal detailed to Al-Monitor the humiliating six-hour experience that 15 Arab-Americans, ages 17 to 28, faced by Israeli officials. The visit, part of Project Hope, a project bringing volunteers to Palestine, was coordinated with the US State Department and the White House, according to Ahwal. She said that the US missions in Amman, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were aware of the visit.

Ahwal said that even though she was allowed entry without a problem in June to attend the federation’s conference in Ramallah, this time the Israelis at the bridge acted differently. “As soon as we came up to passport control, I knew something bad was up,” she told Al-Monitor in Amman.

Israeli officials interrogated the entire group, trying to find any discrepancies in their narratives. In the end, Ahwal was told that she was denied entry for five years, and that the group will not be allowed in because they “lied.”

One of the issues brought up was the areas that the group intended to visit. Ahwal said that she and her peers were unable to provide any paper itinerary since they all had the details of the trip electronically and couldn’t retrieve this while waiting at the border entry where Internet was inaccessible. Ahwal said that Jennifer Paterson, 17, from San Diego was asked to name the holy places that she was planning to visit. When she was unable to detail them, the Israelis accused her and other group members of giving false information about the real intention of their visit. Continue Reading »

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Jul 17 2014

Abbas powerless to stop Gaza war

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The current war on Gaza is sure to have some unexpected consequences. It will likely weaken the PLO-led Palestinian government and place in hibernation the PLO-Hamas reconciliation agreement.

For years, two contradictory strategies have been considered by the Palestinians. On one hand, the peace route has been endorsed by President Mahmoud Abbas, who has fought hard to keep it going, to ensure that security coordination with Israel takes place and at the same time sought to bring about change in Gaza through elections. On the other hand, Hamas and Islamic Jihad believe that liberation will only come by way of military resistance.

Abbas’ strategy ran into difficulties after the Netanyahu government refused to release the last tranche of veteran prisoners as part of the deal to conduct the recent peace talks, and increased illegal settlement activities. Nevertheless, Abbas kept hopes alive for some kind of intervention from the United States and the international community to get the talks back on track. But before this intervention took place, the Ramallah leadership faced a new problem with the kidnapping of three Israelis followed by the unsupported accusation by Israel that Hamas was behind it.

This led to the suspension of some aspects of the reconciliation, although the unity government has continued to work. Abbas’ strategy for Gaza was bent on the idea of a gradual change from the current Hamas’ military control to civilian control that would be determined through the ballot box. Elections were to take place at least six months after the start of the unity government in May. Continue Reading »

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Jul 16 2014

Conditions for a long-term ceasefire

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Following appeared in the Jordan Times Newspaper

In violent conflicts, parties to the conflict are always under pressure to cease fire. Ceasefire agreements tend to have different formats but there are two basic requirements that successful long-term ceasefires require.

The first is clear: a total cessation of all attacks using all forms of weapons and from and to all relative locations. But most people don’t realise that the most important part of an effective ceasefire agreement is usually the second part. Namely, the political conditions that are being offered to buttress and cement the cessation of hostilities. 

The idea of both parties stopping attacks usually doesn’t hold for very long. There is always an element, usually political or logistic, that was the cause of hostilities and which the parties are adamant to try and address in order to justify to their own people why they participated in the violence in the first place.

Applying this theory to the current Israeli war on Gaza it is clear that the Israeli idea of mutual tahdiya (calm) is not a formula that will last very long. 

The Palestinian side feels that they were wrongly accused of being behind the kidnapping of three Israelis in areas under Israel’s control in the West Bank. They, along with the entire population of Gaza and the rest of the world, also feel that the seven-year illegal and unauthorised land and sea siege of Gaza must come to an end. Continue Reading »

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Jul 15 2014

Israel targets Hamas-Fatah unity in Gaza

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

After his July 10 speech at the UN Security Council, Israel’s representative Ron Prosor said, “It’s time for the international community to right the wrong of the embrace between Hamas and Fatah. … Unity does not equal impunity.”

 While Israel repeats that it is conducting a defensive war to stop the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, it has publicly declared its opposition to the Fatah-Hamas unity government. Ever since the agreement was announced, the Israelis have been attacking it as an act of legitimization for the Islamic movement. The new unity government includes no members of Hamas and the government’s program adheres to the conditions put forth by the Quartet following Hamas’ victory in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections.

Hamas’ security control of the Gaza Strip has for some time been the Achilles’ heel of the Palestinian negotiating team. Israel has often rhetorically asked the Ramallah-based negotiators whether they also speak for Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been pushing for a reconciliation that will end up in new elections as the best way to cease Hamas rule in Gaza. When Hamas’ political leadership capitulated and accepted all the PLO’s conditions, the unity government was formed without any Hamas members. Israel felt that this gave a new life to the Islamic movement. Continue Reading »

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Jul 11 2014

Fatah leader: US position on Gaza ‘shameful’

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

In an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, blasted the US position on Israel’s war on Gaza. According to Maqboul, “The US position is shameful. They are giving a green light to Israel to attack our people under the guise that Israel has a right to self-defense.”

Maqboul stressed that Palestinians are united against the Israeli assault on Gaza, dismissing talk that the war will result in the collapse of the unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Said Maqboul, “We have now gotten past the differences and are all united against the Israeli aggression on our land and are in total support and solidarity with our people.” He further stated, “We all know that the main Israeli goal has been to break up the national unity reconciliation. We will respond by strengthening our unity and reconciliation.”

According to Maqboul, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah might visit Gaza in the coming days, pending logistical arrangements, either via the Rafah crossing from Egypt or the Erez crossing from Israel.

The senior Fatah leader also revealed that President Mahmoud Abbas had told the Palestinian leadership in a July 9 closed-door meeting that he is ready to end security coordination with Israel if the leadership requested. Maqboul stated, “President Abbas told the leaders, which included members of the PLO Executive Committee and senior leaders of factions, the following: ‘If you agree to cancel the security coordination with Israel, I will support it.’ He was then silent. No one spoke up after that, which is a clear indication that they were not in favor of ending security coordination at the moment.”

The Palestinians are also taking steps to join the International Criminal Court, Mabqoul said, without going into details.

The full interview follows. Continue Reading »

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Jul 10 2014

Is War on Gaza Based on an Israeli Fabrication?

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By Daoud Kuttab

When three Israelis went missing three weeks ago, and before any evidence was made available, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on his own to pin responsibility on the Islamist movement Hamas. He and his political and military cohorts continued with this fabrication by rounding up hundreds of Hamas activists and pro-Hamas elected members of parliament and shelled Hamas’ Gaza offices. Palestinians released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, which was guaranteed by the Egyptians, were also rounded up in the attempt to pressure Hamas.

When pressed to show proof, the Israelis delivered names of two Hamas activists who were simply not at home when Israeli soldiers went to arrest them. The going theory was that the disappearance of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha was nothing more than slam dunk proof that these Hamas activists must have certainly carried out the abduction of the Israelis. Without any more proof than that Israel demolished the homes of the two missing Palestinians. Furthermore, Israeli intelligence activists began a media campaign (using sympathetic journalists) to defame the 10,000 strong Qawasmeh clan, creating an entire story about a “rogue family.”

The accusation of Hamas obviously had ulterior motives that Israel was quick to propagate. The aim of the accusation and arrest of the two Hamas members was nothing less than pressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to abrogate the reconciliation agreement with the Gaza-based Hamas leadership. Continue Reading »

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Jul 10 2014

War on Gaza based on a lie

Following appeared in the Jordan Times Newspaper

By Daoud Kuttab

When three Israelis went missing three weeks ago, and before any evidence was made available, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided on his own to pin responsibility on the Islamist movement Hamas. He and his political and military cohorts continued with this fabrication by rounding up hundreds of Hamas activists and pro-Hamas elected members of parliament and shelled Hamas’ Gaza offices. Palestinians released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, which was guaranteed by the Egyptians, were also rounded up in the attempt to pressure Hamas.

When pressed to show proof, the Israelis delivered names of two Hamas activists who were simply not at home when Israeli soldiers went to arrest them. The going theory was that the disappearance of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha was nothing more than slam dunk proof that these Hamas activists must have certainly carried out the abduction of the Israelis. Without any more proof than that Israel demolished the homes of the two missing Palestinians. Furthermore, Israeli intelligence activists began a media campaign (using sympathetic journalists) to defame the 10,000 strong Qawasmeh clan, creating an entire story about a “rogue family”.

The accusation of Hamas obviously had ulterior motives that Israel was quick to propagate. The aim of the accusation and arrest of the two Hamas members was nothing less than pressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to abrogate the reconciliation agreement with the Gaza-based Hamas leadership. Continue Reading »

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