Archive for December, 2014

Dec 29 2014

Why I Am Opposed to the Carrying Out of Capital Punishment in Jordan

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

I am in principle opposed to the capital punishment. I am even more opposed to Jordan carrying out this inhuman punishment for a number of reasons.

One of the main reasons people are opposed to capital punishment is the fact that the chance of miscarriage of justice is high.

Throughout history, there are abundant cases of individuals who were executed, only to be proved innocent later.

Through DNA testing, one could see that even some of the world’s most careful judiciaries made mistakes that led to this irreversible punishment.

In Jordan, the judiciary is well respected by the public, but it could still be mistaken. In fact, weeks ago, a scandal led to the early retirement of five senior judges. The fact that judges were part of the scandal points to the potential of a grave miscarriage of justice.

A one percent chance that a wrong judgement can end someone’s life should be reason enough to refrain from carrying out this cruel punishment.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the capital punishment, especially in a region like Jordan, is the mistaken understanding that it will work as a deterrent and lower crime rates. There is no scientific proof that this is the case.

Studies show that motives for crime are many and those who carry out acts that result in a capital punishment verdict are bound to continue to act in the same manner, regardless of the penalty. Continue Reading »

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Dec 18 2014

Diplomacy, Timing and Palestine

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By Daoud Kuttab

Time is one of the most crucial elements of effective diplomacy.

A diplomatic act can have disastrous consequences if executed at the wrong time, but can be successful if the timing is correct.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al Malki was quoted Tuesday as saying Palestinians are willing to postpone submitting a resolution to the UN Security Council Wednesday for a few days, though no later than the end of the month.

The resolution is to be submitted by the Arab state currently holding a seat at the Security Council, Jordan. It will call for a time a two-year limit within which the 1967 Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands will end.

The Palestinian tactic is to combine Jordan’s presence at the Security Council in 2014 with the changes expected in the council in 2015.

The chances of a resolution for Palestinian statehood gaining nine positive votes in 2015 are better because a number of new countries that will become members recognised Palestine or had their parliaments (such as Spain) recognize the state of Palestine.

The internal workings of the UN allow for a draft resolution to be submitted and discussed at the council, but the text to be voted on is the one that will be submitted in blue.

Gaining nine votes will force reluctant permanent members like the US to take a decisive decision.

In the past, a US veto was almost automatic. But recently, Israeli officials stated that they are worried that the veto is not a sure thing.

Not only are Washington and Tel Aviv at loggerheads on a variety of issues, but the US is careful not to cause damage to its current anti-Islamic State Arab coalition by voting against a resolution on Palestine. Continue Reading »

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Dec 14 2014

Death of Ziad Abu Ein could work to Abbas’ advantage

 

By Daoud Kuttab

The death of senior Palestinian official Ziad Abu Ein, while he attempted to plant olive trees in Palestinian territory, is sure to reignite calls for a major discussion of Palestinian resistance tactics and strategies. Palestinian nonviolent efforts have been going on for years without producing concrete results.

At a time when negotiations had reached a dead end and armed resistance had proven extremely costly in human and other terms, an alternative strategy was sought. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and others in the Palestinian national camp advocated nonviolent popular struggle as the most effective means to force Israel to end its 47-year occupation. The Israelis, who recognized how lethal responses to popular protests fueled the first intifada, have confronted the various efforts with just enough violence to try to deter, but without major fatalities.

Israel’s oppressive efforts to stifle Palestinian resistance have been seen in places likeNi’llin, Nabi Musa, Nahalin and other villages where protests have been taking place every Friday for years. The demonstrations, largely against the separation wall and confiscation of Palestinian lands, have included Israeli peace supporters and international solidarity activists. Media have also had a presence, regularly filming and reporting on Israeli actions, although with time the impact of these actions diminished, in part because of the absence of fatalities. A Dec. 10 confrontation between Palestinians and Israeli forces, however, did result in a fatal injury to a senior Palestinian official.

Abu Ein had been a minister without portfolio in the Palestinian government and head of the Commission Against the Separation Wall and Settlements. Abu Ein, also a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council (FRC), was declared dead at a Ramallah hospital after suffering serious injuries in a confrontation with Israeli troops. Continue Reading »

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Dec 14 2014

New mooovie remembers cows that ‘threatened’ Israel

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Award-winning documentary “The Wanted 18” reveals the nonviolent ambitions of Palestinian activists in the first intifada who wanted to challenge Israel’s occupation through means of self-sufficiency and tax evasion.

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Dec 12 2014

Men and Women Call on Jordan’s MP Hind Fayez to Stand Tall

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

On the first of December 1955 (the year I was born), a 42-year-old African-American woman, Rosa Parks, made a defiant gesture by refusing to give up her bus seat despite a call by the white bus driver to stand.

The residents of Montgomery, Alabama responded to Parks’ defiance by totally boycotting the discriminatory bus company until it changed its policy.

Fifty-nine years later, almost to the day, a deputy in the Jordanian parliament, Yihya Saud “ordered” defiant MP Hind Fayez to sit down. The call: “Uqudi ya Hind” (sit down Hind) was captured on video and went viral on YouTube as Jordanians and others circulated the footage. Not only did Saud bark out this order, but he also cursed those who introduced the quota system which allowed women to reach Parliament.

No doubt the words that Saud addressed to his colleague are not new to most women who are used to men ordering them around, especially if they have the guts to stand up for what they believe.

Women MPs (not the men) attempted to stand up for their female colleague in the next Lower House session and sat in the foyer rather than their allotted seats. But the boycott didn’t last long and they were convinced to return to the chamber without Saud having apologized.

Women, who make up half the population, are represented by 18 out of the 150 Lower House members — a mere 12 percent. Due to this low level of female representation, Jordan rank is 115 out of 155 parliaments. Continue Reading »

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Dec 07 2014

Concern grows over Abbas’ autocratic tendencies

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The sight was unusual and the purpose was even more bizarre. A large contingent of the Palestinian police force surrounded the office of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), which has not been in session for years. Palestinian police showed up in the afternoon of Dec. 2 and have been stationed outside all its entrances and exits since.

Jehad Harb, a researcher at the PLC, told Al-Monitor that when he asked the police officers about their presence, they told him that President Mahmoud Abbas instructed them to prevent PLC Secretary-General Ibrahim Khreisheh from reaching his office. The Palestinian media reported that Khreisheh was fired from his position by Abbas, allegedly over his public support for the head of the civil servants union, Bassam Zakarneh. Khreisheh is a member of Abbas’ Fatah revolutionary PLC. Zakraneh and his deputy, Muin Ensawi, were arrested on Nov. 6 for leading an “illegal” union. Both were released on Nov. 13, but the union has been declared illegal and the legitimacy of the union is now to be evaluated in a Palestinian court.

Left-wing PLO Executive Committee member Tayseer Khaled expressed dismay at the sight of the police. “At a time that parliaments around the world are voting in recognition of Palestine, it is unacceptable that the Palestinian police surround our own parliament,” Khaled, a senior member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was quoted as saying.

Najat Abu Bakr, an elected Fatah legislator from Nablus, told Al-Monitor that the presence of armed police on PLC premises is a direct violation of Clause 51 of the Palestinian Basic Law, which states that only the head of the legislature can order the police on PLC premises. Abu Bakr said that it is a gray zone, because the PLC has not been in session for years. “The constitutional crisis is the result of a lack of consensus within the parliament’s own factions,” he said. Abu Bakr was not the only Fatah legislator to complain. The head of the parliamentary faction, Azzam Ahmad, spoke publicly against the police presence saying that the decision about who is the secretary-general of the legislative PLC is the sole prerogative of the PLC itself. Continue Reading »

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Dec 07 2014

Palestinians prepare push for UN resolution on statehood

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ own people often have some unflattering words for him. He has been called a “traitor” and a “quisling,” accused of selling out Palestine in peace negotiations. While Israelis also attack him as a “diplomatic terrorist” and “Arafat in a suit,” one important Israeli sector has been praising him. The Israeli security establishment has nothing but positive words for the embattled Palestinian leader for his consistent support of security cooperation with Israel.

The public support from Israel’s security chief Yoram Cohen directly contradicts the statements of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and provides Abbas with a strong new political weapon. Speaking in Cairo at the Arab League foreign ministers meeting Nov. 29, Abbas threatened to end security cooperation if plans for a timetable to end the occupation fail at the UN. The Palestinian leader has secured support from the Arab League for a resolution to be submitted to the UN Security Council demanding a short time frame for the end of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands occupied after 1967. Palestinian and Arab sources have been quiet about the exact details of the resolution. Previous public statements by Palestinian officials talked about a “firm timetable” of two or three years.

Having secured the support of the Arab League, the fight to end Israel’s occupation now moves to the UN Security Council. Jordan, the only Arab member of the council, has been asked by the Arab League to carry the Palestinian position. Dina Kawar, Jordan’s UN representative, told Al-Monitor that once the resolution is officially submitted, “There are bound to be negotiations as to which text will be agreed to.” Kawar said, “Once we decide with the Palestinians to put the draft in blue, it means it has to be voted on.” But Kawar expects that the negotiations will take some time. Continue Reading »

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Dec 04 2014

A Resounding Public Support for Palestine Around the World

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By Daoud Kuttab

Politicians holding down the floodgates against a public display of support for the state of Palestine were embarrassed in recent weeks. As soon as these political gatekeepers allowed their rank and file to express their positions, tremendous backing came for Palestine and its people. This happened in the British House of Commons, where an overwhelming number of MPs voted for Palestine, followed by Spain and, this week, by France. Other European countries are set to vote in the coming weeks, after it became unacceptable to deny the representatives of the people the right to say their word.

True, the votes recognizing the state of Palestine are not binding on the governments, but they send a powerful message and make it very difficult for these countries’ representatives at the UN Security Council to vote against a resolution that goes against what their own parliament voted for. The UK and France are permanent members; Spain will become a member of the prestigious UN Security Council on January 1, 2015.

France’s foreign minister is trying hard to avoid a UN Security Council vote; he has been trying hard to organize a peace conference in Paris that can bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Palestinians are clear that the time for negotiations is over, and only accept an end of the occupation. Talks to any other end would be a waste of time and an opportunity for Israel to obfuscate and delay. Of course, all the votes in favor of Palestine took place in Europe. The United States is a different story. Continue Reading »

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Dec 01 2014

On the International Day for Solidarity with the Palestinian People

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By Daoud Kuttab

In 1977, the UN General Assembly declared November 29 the international day for solidarity with Palestine.

Last year, the UN secretary general added to this, declaring 2014 the international year for solidarity with the Palestinian people..

As we observe one day and almost the end of the year, the two dates appear to be nothing more than empty rhetoric.

To be fair, at the time the UN leader had called for solidarity with Palestinians, a nine-month negotiating window had opened up.

That window has been closed since last April by Israel, which failed to honour its commitments (to release 104 prisoners); thus a state of war replaced the hope for peace.

The breakdown of the peace talks was followed by an increase in illegal settlement activities, a brutal war on Gazans, and Israeli leaders’ incitement against Arabs in Jerusalem, which led to violence and destruction.

The dangerous slide towards a possible religious war over Al Aqsa Mosque was averted at the last minute by Jordan’s recall of its ambassador to Israel.

In addition to the dangerous actions in and around Al Aqsa Mosque, we are now witnessing yet another aggravation, this time in the form of a racist Israeli law that is threatening the very basic agreements that were reached two decades ago.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation, a signatory to the exchange of recognition with Israel on September 9, 1993, declared that the change of the character of Israel will be seen as a negation of the recognition of Israel and “abolish the mutual exchange agreement reached in 1993.” Continue Reading »

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