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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Jul 09 2014

Video technology exposing Israeli violations in the West Bank

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Closed-circuit cameras have always been part of Israel’s high-tech approach to security, but in recent months, the presence of cameras and Palestinians’ use of cell phones have come back to haunt the Israeli security establishment.

A security camera perched on top of the store owned by Hussein Abu Khdeir provided key evidence in the kidnapping and murder of his son Mohammed, showing the Israelis involved and the car in which they abducted him. It was a cell phone camera that captured Israeli policemen beating Mohammed’s subdued 15-year-old Palestinian-American cousin, Tariq, who was visiting Jerusalem, on vacation from Tampa, Florida.

A month ago, Israeli officials and spokesmen were caught off guard on May 15, when a security camera atop a carpentry shop captured Israeli soldiers’ unprovoked shooting of two Palestinian school boys in the Beitunia area. Israeli officials, believing that there were no cameras at the site, claimed that the soldiers had not used live bullets and that those shot with rubber bullets had been throwing stones at soldiers. Autopsies and the security camera exposed their attempts to falsify reality. Continue Reading »

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Jul 09 2014

Israeli settlers continue attacks on Palestinians

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The Rev. Atallah Issawi, pastor of a Protestant church in the West Bank village of Aboud, and his wife, Hilda, were driving home the night of July 5 after attending a wedding in Ramallah. Issawi’s church, along with an excellent private school in their predominantly Christian village, had been established by missionaries from the US-based Church of God in the 1960s. Traveling with the Issawis was another couple, Rev. Musa Allawi and his wife, Palestinian citizens of Israel from Ramleh.

The four passed an Israeli army checkpoint, where they were told to be careful because a group of angry settlers was roaming around. After continuing on their way, they fell into a trap and were ambushed by stone-throwing settlers.

Issawi told Al-Monitor that he felt that he was about to be killed. The Palestinians managed to speed away, despite a broken windshield and other damage to the car. All the passengers escaped injury and worse. The settlers followed them but quit the chase when the Palestinians found refuge in the nearby village of Deir Abu Mishaal. Palestinian residents there protected and comforted the travelers while they waited a few hours for the Israeli army to decide to respond to the settlers’ hooliganism and order them off the roads.

Such settler attacks are occurring alongside officially sanctioned Israeli army roundups of Palestinians, including parliamentarians. The total number of prisoners has reached nearly 700 according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club. Arrests have continued after the discovery of the bodies of the three missing Israelis that resulted in the latest round of detentions. Continue Reading »

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Jul 05 2014

Israeli policies in Jerusalem spur unrest

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The Palestinian film director had no idea that her production was a security threat. Emtiaz al-Moghrabi had produced a film — “Noor” (Light) — about the problem of drug abuse among the youth of East Jerusalem. The documentary, which was screened in Ramallah and other Palestinian cities, was to be shown in East Jerusalem on the eve of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26. A local educational institute, Dar al Tifl, was chosen as the venue and the event was promoted as part of the local community’s campaign against drug abuse.

The screening never took place. Israeli police arrived at the location half an hour before it was to start with an order signed by the Israeli interior minister banning the event.

Film censorship has been practically unenforced in Israel for years. The order states that the film may not be shown anywhere in Israel without prior permission. This is not the first time Israel has banned an event that poses no security threat to deny the Palestinian Authority (PA) a say in what happens in East Jerusalem. Last year, the Palestinian National Theater was closed for a week because it had organized a Palestinian children’s puppet festival that was supported with funding from Europe through the PA.

These incidents show how far the Israelis will go to isolate Palestinians in East Jerusalem from their Palestinian connections. This isolation has done the city’s Palestinians terrible psychological as well as physical damage. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel reported in a May 2012 study that 78% of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and 84% of the children there live below the poverty line — among the worst poverty rates anywhere. The report also says that Palestinians are only able to build on 17% of their land and that 90,000 live behind the concrete wall Israel built. Over 14,000 have had their Jerusalem residency revoked by the Israeli Interior Ministry in what Palestinians consider a form of ethnic cleansing. Continue Reading »

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Jul 03 2014

World Cup and the digital switchover

Published by under Articles,Jordan

Following appeared in the Jordan Times Newspaper

If all goes as planned, this could be the last World Cup that the general public in most Arab countries, including Jordan and Palestine, will not be able to watch for free.

According to FIFA laws and regulations, TV broadcasting of the game should not be monopolised by any country, but the Arab region is the exception to the rule.

The near absence of any Jordanians terrestrial TV broadcasting has played into the hands of the oil-rich Gulf countries that paid exorbitant licence fees for the satellite broadcast of this season’s World Cup (as well as the last).

As reportedly 96 per cent of Jordanians watch satellite stations, a warped television culture has developed.

Hundreds (some say thousands) of stations are available free to air in the Arab region, despite the fact that most of them are broadcasting what amounts to inferior programming.

Whether a country or a movement, to exist politically in the Arab world one has to be on satellite.

The little box in the corner of the TV screen bearing one’s name or logo has become the sign of political existence, irrespective of the fact that someone watches that station or not.

All this could change in the next year or so if the planned switchover to terrestrial digital broadcasting is implemented properly.

Digital broadcasting not only provides regulators with tens of newly available stations (both nationwide and local) at higher quality and lower upload costs, it also gives end users many benefits, including recording, replaying and listening to broadcasts in different languages or subtitles for those with difficulty hearing. Continue Reading »

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Jul 03 2014

Israel opens gates to collective reprisals for youth murders

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Twelve days of constant media coverage, often 24-hour live reporting and repeated accusations from the very top of the Israeli government of the involvement of Hamas in the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli youths, have reached the level of hysteria.

The Israeli army, well-armed Jewish settlers and even members of the press have taken up these calls, acted on them, expounded on them and justified them.

The news of the discovery of the bodies has triggered an unprecedented wave of bloodthirsty demands of revenge that has been supported by the Israeli prime minister. Speaking to reporters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified acts of revenge. “Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created; neither has vengeance for the blood of three pure youths, who were on their way home to meet their parents, who will not see them anymore. Hamas is responsible — and Hamas will pay,” Netanyahu said.

Not long after the news of the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli teenagers, army units demolished a Palestinian suspect’s home, and ran bombing raids on the Gaza Strip.

Settlers have also taken up their own acts of revenge. On the roads, Palestinian media reported two cases of Palestinian children being run over by settler cars. The situation in Hebron was nothing short of a volcano waiting to erupt.

But some of the worst reaction to the despicable act of killing the Israeli teens has come from politicians and pundits. When the incitement comes from the very top of the government, it is no wonder how the rest of the population acts. Continue Reading »

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Jun 27 2014

Kidnapping prompts Palestinian prisoners to end hunger strike

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Sixty-three days after they declared an open-ended hunger strike, some 75 Palestinian administrative detainees announced on June 25 that they have suspended their hunger strike. Few details have emerged, but the Palestinian prisoners succeeded in exposing the injustice of administrative detention without putting a stop to this undemocratic practice.

No written agreement has been signed, a point Israel insisted on. But Al-Monitor sources among ex-prisoners point to some small signs of success despite the general observation that the prisoners failed in their stated goal of ending the Israeli practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial.

Political events, especially the disappearance of the three Israeli settlers and the large arrest campaign, have caused a major change in tactics for the hunger-striking prisoners. The over 100 detainees who were held without trial or charge when the April 24 hunger strike began, found their numbers nearly doubling in the past weeks as Israel detained hundreds of Palestinians without any charge or evidence against them. The campaign to find the three Israeli settlers who disappeared June 12 has also made the Israelis so sour and angry that the Palestinian prisoners realized this was not the best time to press them on what they consider a deterrent weapon — administrative detention.

Prisoner leaders as well as their counterparts outside had concluded a week ago, according to a former Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) prisoner in Bethlehem, that a face-saving formula must be found to end the hunger strike. The first problem was that the Israeli prison authorities had separated the prison leaders into different prisons and later, when their physical condition worsened, in separate hospitals. Therefore, the priority was to find a way to regroup the leadership committee that was made up of eight prisoners. The committee was comprised of two representatives each from Fatah, Hamas, the PFLP and Islamic Jihad. Continue Reading »

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Jun 25 2014

The kidnapping of three Israelis has brought attention back to Palestinian conflict

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By Daoud Kuttab

The kidnapping of three Israeli religious settlers in an area under the total administrative and security control of the Israeli army has partially brought back attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but for the wrong reasons.

While it is natural that the phone calls by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focused on ways to help find the missing settlers, both Israeli and US officials must understand the context of the case and their own responsibilities for the way things ended up.

It is a basic strategic recipe. If you take away hope for a political solution, you have to expect a spike in violence. Add to this formula a hunger strike by over 100 Palestinians imprisoned without charge or trial, that has lasted almost two months without a single attempt to negotiate or hear the prisoners’ demands and you have trouble.

If the above is not enough consider downtown Hebron, Palestine’s second most populated city, where settlers run amok and a major commercial street (Shuhada) is blocked since 1994 (after 29 worshiping Palestinians were gunned down) for no reason.

Furthermore, there is documented daily harassment of Palestinians by settlers, which goes without punishment by the ruling Israeli power.

The absurdity of the situation allowed to fester in Hebron has led a major pacifist Christian organisation (Christian peace makers team) to send volunteers to help Palestinian children cross the street to go to school.

Continue Reading »

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