Archive for November, 2014

Nov 06 2014

Don’t Forget Gaza

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By Daoud Kuttab

For a few days last week Gaza Strip turned into a large prison.

Ever since October 24, the Rafah crossing point has been closed by the Egyptians following the huge attack on the army in north Sinai.

Israel has also closed all its crossings with Gaza on November 2, allegedly following the launch from Gaza on that same day of a single rocket that landed in a deserted area.

The Israelis reopened their crossing points Tuesday, but Rafah continues to be closed.

Egypt, which was stunned by a horrific series of attacks that caused the death of over30 soldiers, has been searching for answers, and the army argues that the problem lies in Gaza.

Not only has the Rafah crossing been totally and completely closed since then, but Egyptian engineers have also been busy destroying houses on the Egyptian side of Rafah in order to create a 500-metre buffer zone that they hope will forever end the problem of the tunnels to Gaza.

The closures come at a time the reconstruction process is moving at a very slow pace. While the donor conference in Cairo produced better than expected pledges, the crucial unity between Fateh and Hamas has yet to produce a major breakthrough.

Hamas is still holding off turning over control of its side of the Rafah crossing to the joint presidential guards and EU monitors. This failure has allowed Egypt to continue its narrative that Hamas is part of the problem.

As a result, the Egyptian army and political leadership have had little problem in justifying this hermetic closure of the only crossing point enabling Gazans to leave and return. Continue Reading »

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Nov 04 2014

History shows current Jerusalem crisis not its last

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The recent escalation of tension in East Jerusalem and especially in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque will most certainly confuse many. Why, some ask, would the Israeli government carry on an unprecedented act of closing off the entire mosque area to all but eight Muslim worshipers, only to reopen it the next day and appeal for calm?

The extreme Israeli action included the prohibition of the call for prayer, which has not happened since the Israeli occupation of the city in 1967. Israelis say they could not remain silent following the shooting of Yehuda Glick, a radical American-Israeli activist rabbi who has been calling for Jews to establish a permanent presence in the entire Haram al-Sharif, which is nominally under the joint control of unarmed Islamic Waqf (Jordanian) guards and well-armed Israeli security personnel.

Glick, a member of the small radical group of Jewish extremists called the Temple Mount Faithful, had just ended a lecture at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center titled “Israel returns to the Temple Mount” when he was shot by an unknown assailant who reportedly told him that what he had said at the lecture “really hurt me.”

In turn, Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem. Israeli accounts say that they surrounded the home of Moataz Hijazi and took him out during an exchange of fire. Palestinians deny that an exchange of fire took place, calling his killing an assassination. Continue Reading »

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Nov 02 2014

Palestinians will wait until January to seek UN recognition

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

No official has said it bluntly, but the Palestinian threat to seek recognition of statehood again from the UN Security Council is likely to be postponed until the end of the year. US Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly asked for this postponement and without the needed nine votes to force the United States to veto a resolution, it makes little sense to go to the Security Council now.

However, as of Jan. 1, the Security Council will include countries that will easily secure the needed votes for Palestine: Venezuela, Angola, New Zealand, Spain and Malaysia are replacing Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, South Korea and Rwanda.

Fatah leaders attending the Revolutionary Council told Al-Monitor that they have given President Mahmoud Abbas the freedom to delay until January, if needed, to fulfill the current road map of joining all UN agencies once the Security Council is given a chance to vote on the Palestinian demand.

Speaking on Palestine Today TV after the council’s 1½-day meeting on Oct, 23, Sabri Saidam, the deputy secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that a number of steps were discussed in the Fatah meeting before any major break with the Oslo Accord and the security coordination with Israel that came with it. These steps include: seeking a vote in the Security Council; if the United States vetoes, then the consequent step would be to join all UN agencies, including the Rome Statues regarding theInternational Criminal Court; and then, clearly declaring the end of security coordination with the occupiers. Continue Reading »

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