Jul 03 2016

Promoting enlightenment

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

Countering violent extremism has become the flavour of the month recently, but if a leaked document is accurate, the government has been following a strategy to counter extremism for at least two years.

The strategy of countering extremism states that it is based on three pillars: a correct interpretation of Islam, the need to promote a culture of democracy, and instituting values like tolerance, pluralism, respect for human rights and acceptance of the other.

It calls for a holistic, long-term, approach and not a quick fix.

But the 6,350-word document that begins with talk of tolerance, human rights and democracy reads more like a blueprint requiring action by the various executive branches of the government.

Any official reading this document will get the impression that many of the bullet points directed to different ministries are more like orders than words of advice.

The eight-page document, as published in a local newspaper, provides executive specifics on how to deal with extremism, including 49 articles expected from the Islamic Waqf Ministry, 17 articles that the Ministry of Social Affairs is supposed to implement, 15 items concerning the Ministry of Education,16 for the ministry in charge of media affairs, 10 items for the Ministry of Culture, 16 for the Interior Ministry, 10 for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 11 items to be worked on by the tribal affairs adviser. Continue Reading »

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Jun 30 2016

Clinton’s not-so-Democratic Party when it comes to Israel

Published by under Articles,US-Middle East

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By Daoud Kuttab

As first Lady, Hillary Clinton had the political courage to support Palestinian statehood and even have her picture taken as she kissed Suha Arafat on the cheek at the Christmas lights ceremony in Bethlehem.
As a diplomat in her own right, Secretary Clinton often repeated the Obama Administration’s opposition to occupation and to the continued Israeli building of settlements.
But as the presumptive nominee for the US Democratic Party, Clinton’s loyal delegates are refusing to recognise “reality” as Professor Cornel West, the Bernie Sanders delegate to the drafting committee, so forcefully articulated.
Recognising that Palestine is under occupation is not such a big deal. Every single country in the world, and even half of Israel have already done so. The UN and all its bodies, from the Security Council to the General Assembly and everything in between, say that Palestinian territories captured in an Israeli initiated war in 1967 are occupied territories.

The International Criminal Court deliberating on the Israeli-built wall deep in Palestinian territory, said that the areas are occupied and that the Geneva IV conventions of 1949 apply to these territories.

Continue Reading »

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Jun 28 2016

Will next Palestinian president be handpicked by Abbas?

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

The holy month of Ramadan is an opportunity for people to gather in unison as they break their fast. This year, the key topic among Palestinians has been the issue of the Palestinian presidential succession.

The various post-Mahmoud Abbas scenarios have engulfed talks in almost every home or restaurant that Palestinians have gathered in. While the consensus among Palestinians is that the next Palestinian leader must have impeccable nationalist credentials, most agree that such an individual must also pass through some sort of vetting process by Arab countries and the international community.

While some well-known names, such as former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, might come up for discussion, most accept that short of a free and fair general election of all Palestinians, this succession process will most certainly take place within the ruling Fatah movement. Within such a scenario, most people naturally expect to see Abbas’ successor come from one of the movement’s 20 Central Committee members.

For Palestinians living in the occupied territories today, part of the qualifications for leadership is often experiencing the tough conditions of living under occupation including paying the sacrifice of being in prison. This puts individuals such as Marwan Barghouti — who has been serving multi-lifetime terms in an Israel jail since 2002 — as the No. 1 candidate. But Barghouti’s imprisonment puts him at a disadvantage in terms of availability and even doubt whether he has the needed support from Arab countries and the United States. Continue Reading »

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Jun 23 2016

Abbas in Amman back to the routine

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

The statement coming out of the Jordan News Agency, Petra, was very ordinary. It stated that President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation made up of PLO secretary Saeb Erekat and head of the Palestinian intelligence service Majed Faraj were hosted by King Abdullah and the Crown Prince for an iftar banquet on Wednesday, June 15.

The statement went on to say that the two leaders discussed current issues, including the Palestinian conflict and the stalled peace process.

The Petra news report may have sounded routine and ordinary, but this was no ordinary meeting.

The routine visits that Palestinian President Abbas usually makes to see the King have not been happening for nearly a year or so.

Very few people have been able to figure out what was the reason for this drought in relations.

Some have pointed out that it was due to the Palestinian insistence that Jordan submit a resolution to the UN Security Council back on December 24, 2014.

Jordan, which at the time was presiding over the Security Council, had advised against the move, but Ramallah insisted. The resolution failed to gain the needed minimum nine votes to be voted on.  Continue Reading »

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Jun 23 2016

REVEALED: CAUSE OF JORDANIAN ANGER WITH PALESTINIANS

Published by under Articles,Jordan

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By Daoud Kuttab

The report  published in the Jordan Times, was very ordinary. It stated that President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation made up of PLO secretary Saeb Erekat and head of the Palestinian intelligence service Majed Faraj were hosted by King Abdullah and the Crown Prince for an iftar banquet on Wednesday, June 15.
The report went on to say that the two leaders discussed current issues, including the Palestinian conflict and the stalled peace process.
The Jordan Times report may have sounded routine and ordinary, but this was no ordinary meeting.
The routine visits that Palestinian President Abbas usually makes to see the King have not been happening for nearly a year or so.
Very few people have been able to figure out what was the reason for this drought in relations.
Some have pointed out that it was due to the Palestinian insistence that Jordan submit a resolution to the UN Security Council back on December 29, 2014.
Jordan, which at the time was presiding over the Security Council, had advised against the move, but Ramallah insisted. The resolution failed to gain the needed minimum nine votes to be voted on. Continue Reading »

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Jun 22 2016

Will East Jerusalem airport become another Jewish settlement?

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Like so many locations, Palestine’s first airport has three names, each reflecting a different narrative. When it was established in 1920 by the British mandatory government of Palestine, it was given the name “Jerusalem Airport.” A photo taken in 1969 after the 1967 Israeli occupation reflects the original name, albeit with the Hebrew lettering placed above the English and Arabic names.

Palestinians often refer to the airport, which is located near the Palestinian village of Qalandia, north of Jerusalem, as Qalandia Airport. The term has gained popularity since 1948. The Qalandia refugee camp erected near the village also carries the same name, as does the infamous Qalandia checkpoint not far from the town and the airport strip. Palestinian filmmaker Nahed Awwad has reflected on the history of the Qalandia Airport in a documentary titled “5 Minutes from Home” and an article in the Journal of Palestine Studies. The film reflects the extreme Palestinian yearning for times past when travel by airport was very much available without the current hassles of crossing the bridge to Jordan.

But as history is written by the victors, the only name that has a Wikipedia entry is that of Atarot Airport — while the subtext gives the names of Jerusalem and Qalandia. The Israeli media has given the airport the name Atarot Airport in reference to a Jewish moshav (cooperative) settlement that carries the name that has a Biblical reference in Joshua 16:2. Atarot Moshav lies close to the current location of the airport. The moshav was abandoned in the 1948 war and was re-established as an industrial park after the 1967 Israeli occupation. Continue Reading »

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Jun 19 2016

Enforcement of Ramadan laws varies among Palestinian cities

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Samia Danna, a young Palestinian woman from Jerusalem, is worried about how she will get through Ramadan this year. Danna works in Ramallah at a communications company, and the holy month has arrived while she is six months pregnant. Although Islam exempts pregnant women and others (the sick, travelers and women menstruating) from the all-day fasting ritual, Danna was worried that she wouldn’t be able to find a restaurant open from which to order lunch.

Responding to Al-Monitor by email, Danna said that she has not had a problem finding food. “While many restaurants are closed, many restaurants whose owners are Christians are open,” she reported, ticking off the names of some half dozen eateries in Ramallah that are open during the day.

In Bethlehem, the situation is no different. Jeryies Sadi’s family rents a number of shops, including a restaurant on trendy Karkafe Street. “The local government in Bethlehem has no problem with people eating on the streets, and restaurants are open here,” Sadi told Al-Monitor. Continue Reading »

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Jun 19 2016

Palestine hopes to join Interpol this fall

AlMonitor

By Daoud Kuttab

Palestine is hoping to upgrade its observer status to a full membership in Interpol this fall. The international police organization’s 85th General Assembly is set to take place in November in Bali, Indonesia.

 It was reported that European police officials are working with the Palestinians to prepare them for the upcoming discussion. Joeri Van Nuffel, the former chief inspector of security at Brussels’ Zaventem airport, has been coaching Palestinian officials. Van Nuffel joined Interpol in 2012 and has been working with the EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support. The latter declined to comment as it is a technical office.

The Ramallah-based coordinating office has a staff of 69 international employees and 45 nationals with a budget of 9.2 million euros ($10.3 million), according to its website.

The initiative to create an international organization to fight crime came out of the first International Criminal Police Congress, held in Monaco in 1914. In 1923, it became known as the International Criminal Police Commission, and in 1956, its name was shortened to Interpol. Continue Reading »

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Jun 16 2016

Netanyahu’s warped logic

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By Daoud Kuttab

After initially hinting that Israel might be open to some elements of the 2002 Arab Peace Plan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu totally backtracked.

“The Arab Peace Initiative includes positive elements that can help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said shortly after right-wing member of Knesset Avigdor Lieberman was sworn in.

“We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in the region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples.”

Less than two weeks later, Netanyahu told his ministers that “Israel will never accept the Arab Peace Initiative as basis for talks with Palestinians. If they bring the proposal from 2002 and define it as ‘take it or leave it’ — we’ll choose to leave it”.

The Arab plan is both powerful and simple in its details. It is based on what the two Bush presidents (and all presidents after) considered as the basis for resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict, namely an exchange of land for peace. Continue Reading »

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Jun 13 2016

Occupied East Jerusalem Needs to Be Free

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By Daoud Kuttab

In its attempt to force itself on the Palestinians of Jerusalem, the Israeli government and various Israeli radical groups have an arsenal of actions, activities and slogans all with the same purpose.

Unable to remove Palestinians from Jerusalem or wrestle total control over the holy city, various attempts are made to make the city more Jewish and to try to negate the Palestinian presence in the city. The Israeli prime minister’s office and a US tax exempt charity have been exposed as being financial supporters of the controversial right wing march in the Palestinian communities of East Jerusalem.
Christian and Muslim worshipers and leaders are regularly made to feel inferior in their city.

While some of the more flagrant, provocative, actions are usually blamed on the more radical right-wing Jewish elements, a quick review of the actions and words of Israeli government and municipal officials shows little difference from the radicals.
The Israeli mayor of Jerusalem walks around the Old City brandishing a weapon and wants to unilaterally remove some 200,000 Palestinians from 27 villages that are part of the city’s municipal boundaries. Continue Reading »

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