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On the ground reports

Marking Memorial Day in Tel Aviv with Kahanists and Combatants for Peace

Dan Cohen on
As attendees filed into the Combatants for Peace event, Kahanists lit a candle display outside the venue that commemorate what they claim are Zionists fighters killed since 1860. (Photo: Dan Cohen)

On Tuesday night, a busload of Palestinians from the West Bank and hundreds of Israeli Jews filed into the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds to attend a Combatants for Peace event billed as an “Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony: Honoring the Victims, Fighting for Peace.” Kahanist protesters had opposed Palestinian participation in the event and baited attendees as they entered. Dan Cohen reports on the proceedings and finds the Kahanists may be a bit more honest then their liberal Israeli counterparts.

A tale of two Susiyas, or how a Palestinian village was destroyed under the banner of Israeli archeology

Allison Deger on
Entrance to Susiya in the south Hebron hills, the West Bank. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Hiam al-Nawaja dreams to live in what she calls a “normal house.” The 23-year old mother of three small children and sheepherder manages in a cinder block frame insulated with a tarp a typical modest home in Susiya, a pastoral Palestinian village set in the rolling south Hebron Hills in the West Bank. Yet a few short decades ago Susiya’s residents had sturdy stone structures built over ancient caves on a hilltop one kilometer from where their town stands today. The former location, “old Susiya,” is close enough that al-Nawaja can see bulldozed remains from her kitchen window. It was destroyed in 1986 when Israel dismantled the town’s mosque to uncover an ancient Jewish synagogue dating back to the sixth century.

Joint List leads march to Jerusalem demanding recognition and equal rights for Bedouin

Allison Deger on
Ayman Odeh (2L) and Fadi Masamra (R) outside of Beersheva during the Bedouin March for Recognition from the Negev to Jerusalem, Thursday, March 26, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

There are still a few weeks before head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh begins his first term in Israel’s parliament, yet he has already led a protest across the country. This past weekend Odeh led the “March for Recognition” with hundreds of Bedouins who live in unrecognized villages. The 130 kilometer trek from the southern Negev desert to Jerusalem officially ended on President Reuven Rivlin’s doorstep Sunday afternoon.

Palestinians mark the 39th anniversary of Land Day

Allison Deger on
Palestinian children hold up spent tear gas canisters after a Land Day demonstration in the West Bank village of Huwara, south of Nablus, March 30, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Today, March 30th Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, marched for Land Day, Yom al-Arda in Arabic, which commemorates protest in the Galilee in 1976 where six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed.

Joint List to lead mass march on Jerusalem, as Netanyahu forms a gov’t

Allison Deger on
Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List, at campaign headquarters in Nazareth, Israel. (Photo: Allison Deger)

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the final hours of forming a ruling coalition to lead the country, the Joint List is organizing a mass march. Unrecognized villagers will camp and walk their way to Israel’s seat of government, all while their party’s leadership is tightening ties with presumed opposition heads in the Zionist Camp.

‘We aim to shape the democratic and moral alternative in this country’ — an interview with Ayman Odeh

Allison Deger on
Ayman Odeh (R) at a campaign event in Yirka, a Druze village in the Galilee in northern Israel, Friday March 13, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Months ago questions were raised if, at all, there would be any Arab representatives in the next Knesset. Then the groups unified under a single banner headed by Ayman Odeh, 41, a first time Knesset candidate from Haifa who started his career in public office at the age of 23 on Haifa’s city council. Now the long road is coming to and end and the Joint Arab List is the third largest party in the country with the potential, for the first time, to influence the outcome of elections.

Palestinian leaders vote to end security coordination with Israel, a cornerstone of Oslo and the occupation

Allison Deger on
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas holds a

Palestinian leaders decided Thursday night they will “end all forms of security coordination with Israel,” a much-criticized practice of shared policing across the West Bank and a staple of Israeli-Palestinian relations over the last two decades. Still the announcement included one loophole where Israel could salvage the security arrangement, signaling the Palestinian leaders could be seeking to leverage Israel’s security concerns as a tactic for the release Palestinian VAT-taxes frozen during the winter after the Palestinians acceded to the Rome Statute, joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) where they can charge Israel with war crimes.

Israeli voters not impressed by Netanyahu’s speech to Congress

Allison Deger on
An Israeli worker hangs posters of Israeli Prime Minister and leader of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu under the slogan 'It's us or them', in Jerusalem, Israel, 08 February 2015.
(Photo: EPA/ABIR SULTAN)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Tuesday elicited strong opinions from U.S. elected officials with rave reviews from Republicans and condemnation from several Democrats. But back home Israelis were nonplussed over the talk—if they watched at all.

Bil’in marks ten years of resisting the occupation

Allison Deger on
Tear gas canisters collected at the end of Bil'in's tenth anniversary protest, February 27, 2015. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Plumes of teargas wafted up the terraced hillside of the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday when over 1,000 demonstrators marked ten years of weekly protests against Israel’s separation wall and occupation, outside of Ramallah. Israelis drove in from Tel Aviv, and international activists and Palestinians from nearby towns flocked to march from the center of Bil’in, to the hamlet’s agricultural grounds. As with every Friday, clashes ensued once protesters reached the outskirts of town where olive orchards and patch vegetable farms buffer Israel’s concrete barrier and one of the most populated settlements, Modi’in Illit.

How Rahat became a symbol of Israeli inequality

Allison Deger on
Bedouins clash with Israeli police in the southern Israeli city of Rahat on January 19, 2015 (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP)

Khalid Ja’ar once worked for Birthright, showing American Jews the “Bedouin experience” in the Negev. But after his son was killed by Israeli police and the town of Rahat has become a focus of Palestinian resistance, and Ja’ar’s world has changed.

Despite punitive Israeli tax freeze, Palestinians to pursue war crimes charges with Arab League financial help

Allison Deger on
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas attends the 25th Arab League summit, held for the first time in Kuwait City, on March 25, 2014. (Photo: Yasser al-Zayyat/AFP/Daily News Egypt)

Within days of Palestinians announcing they would join the International Criminal Court (ICC), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his country would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The punitive move was expected to lead to a crisis for the Palestinian leadership as government services would collapse across the West Bank. But the Palestinian Authority had an unexpected back up plan. The Arab League has agreed to provide emergency funds to cover the VAT-taxes frozen by Israel. This Arab League safety net will help the Palestinians avoid the expected temporary bankruptcy and allow them to move forward with pressing for war crimes at the ICC. In fact, financial support from the Arab League was a key component, along with joining the ICC, of long-term strategy to pressure Israel into negotiations.

Selfies with Santa, fake trees, and businesses striving to stay afloat as Bethlehem celebrates Christmas

Allison Deger on
Palestinian family poses for photographs with a life size nativity scene in Bethlehem, December, 42, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

By mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve crowds had thinned from the limestone plaza that is Manger Square, buffering Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and its winding old city. International tourists lingered, but the bulk of the celebrators were Palestinians—Christian and Muslim alike. A handful of children under ten years old wore costumes and sold candies for 25-cents.

‘Go to Auschwitz!: Extremist settler confronts injured ISM volunteer in Hebron

Ally Cohen on
Shabaab wait for IDF to emerge at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement situated along Shuhada Street, June, 2014. (Photo: Sheren Khalel)

Ally Cohen was monitoring Israeli checkpoints in Hebron with the International Solidarity Movement when she fell and sprained her ankle. She was in immobilized in pain and stuck just outside a settlement on Hebron’s infamous Shuhada Street. Just when she thought the situation could not get any worse a car pulled up next to her and Anat Cohen stepped out.

Jordanian-Palestinian resolution to the UN Security Council gives US and Israel wiggle room

Allison Deger on
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appeals to all nations to vote in favor of the Palestinians "as an investment in peace," in a statement before the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, November 29, 2012. (Photo: Richard Drew/AP)

Early this morning Jordan submitted to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) a draft resolution on behalf of the Palestinians to end Israel’s occupation of territory occupied in June 1967 through a negotiations process. The resolution would be the first to call for a third-party security presence to “guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine,” but it puts no deadline on Israel’s withdrawal.

U.S. seeks to counter Palestinian UN resolution with alternative offer, says French diplomat

Allison Deger on
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius give a press conference at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris Wednesday Nov. 5, 2014.

The United States is creating momentum for the French to forestall, or all together abandon, presenting a resolution to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on behalf of the Palestinians. France has been informed of an American alternative offer to the Palestinian pursuit of a draft resolution to negotiate an end Israel’s occupation of territories gained in June 1967, a French diplomatic source tells Mondoweiss.

Palestinian UN effort seeks to set ‘terms of reference’ for negotiations and promote shift away from US leadership

Allison Deger on
Mahmoud Abbas addresses the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, September 26, 2014, NYC. (Photo: AFP/ Timothy A. Clary)

PLO official Dr. Mohammed Shtayyeh says the current Palestinian push at the UN Security Council comes “a serious junction in the history of Palestine.” Allison Deger reports that the proposed UN resolution marks a change in Palestinian strategy for the PLO. According to Dr. Shtayyeh the resolution is “not simply as part of a routine diplomatic issue. We are going to the Security Council because this is part of a strategic shift in the way that we are dealing with the struggle with the Israelis.” Although details of the resolution are not yet public, it appears this shift includes taking a harder line on Israeli settlement construction and looking toward Europe for leadership over the peace process instead of the United States.

PA to seek UN Security Council resolution giving Israel two years to end the occupation

Allison Deger on
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: Khaled

The Palestinian Authority has announced it will seek a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution calling for an end of the Israeli occupation within a specific time period. The draft legislation gives Israel two years to remove its forces from lands occupied in June 1967 and reaffirms per-existing agreements for a framework of negotiations, said Ashraf Khatib a spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Negotiations Affairs Department via telephone to Mondoweiss. While the resolution makes no explicit mention of land swamps, it does support previous accords where the PLO granted Israel the possibility of territorial exchanges where up to 60% of settlers could remain in the West Bank.

PA considers ‘re-defining security coordination’ with Israel in wake of Palestinian govt minister death

Allison Deger on
Funeral for Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein at the seat of the Palestinian government, the Muqataa, in al-Bireh, near Ramallah, December 11, 2014. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Shop windows in Ramallah were shuttered yesterday within hours of Minister Ziad Abu Ein’s death from a heart attack following an assault by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank village of Turmusaya. Thousands poured through the streets during a state funeral held today with a ceremony at the Muqataa, the seat of the Palestinian Authority and a procession to a nearby cemetery.

‘Suicide Drones’ and the Spoils of War: Israeli arms manufacturers look to cash in on the war in Gaza

Dan Cohen on
An advertisement at the “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” conference. (Image: Dan Cohen)

Three weeks after Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip concluded, Israeli military and political leaders attended a conference next to Ben Gurion Airport to sell the successes of what Israel dubbed Operation Protective Edge, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians including 521 children. The “Israel Unmanned Systems 2014” conference showcased the latest drone technology and previewed the industry’s prospects to a few hundred international buyers, vendors, and military figures. Inside a private conference room, political and industry leaders gave presentations — speaking in military euphemisms that avoided any uncomfortable references to the humanitarian catastrophe resulting from the 51-day bombing campaign. Among the offerings were suicide drones, “loitering munitions” that need to explode; a 16-year-old showing off high-tech robots designed by fellow high schoolers and future drone makers; and “premature” weapons, armaments that have not been fully tested before they are used on a live Palestinian population. Such is Israel the military power.

For the first time Israel’s high court wrestles with legality of punitive home demolitions

Allison Deger on
Palestinian women stand in front of Israeli border police officers in the Jerusalem district of Jabal Mukabar November 18, 2014. (Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Israel’s renewed policy of punitive home demolitions was challenged in its highest court yesterday. The case comes as the Israeli government has ordered the homes of six Palestinians suspected in a series of Jerusalem attacks to be demolished. In the past judges have heard arguments to overturn demolitions on a case by case basis, but this was the first in Israel’s history to address the legality of the practice as such. And the hearing came with immediate consequences. The homes of five Palestinian families are slated for demolition, and one demolition has already been carried out.

Israeli police ransack homes of 40 Palestinians during al-Shaludi home demolition

Allison Deger on
Home of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, the Jerusalem motorist from the October 22, 2014 light rail attack in Jerusalem, demolished by Israeli authorities early Wednesday morning, in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem (Photo: Allison Deger)

Israeli police ransacked seven apartments and urinated inside one while demolishing the Silwan apartment of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, the Palestinian motorist from East Jerusalem who killed a three-month old Israeli-American Chaya Zissel and one Ecuadoran tourist in a light rail attack in Jerusalem on October 22, 2014. “They urinated on the mattresses in my brother’s apartment, said Enas al-Shaludi, 43, the mother of the deceased driver. “You can see the urine on the mattresses.” In addition to the demolition, which the family expected after receiving a demolition order last Friday, all of the other apartments in the four-story residential building were raided.

This is not yet an intifada, Palestinians say

Philip Weiss on
A Palestinian uses a sling shot during clashes with Israeli forces following a protest against Israeli restrictions to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, at the Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, Nov. 14, 2014. (Photo: AP/Majdi Mohammed)

Phil Weiss reports from East Jerusalem where Palestinians say the current violence in the city does not represent a third intifada . . . yet. But there could be an organized uprising if Jewish zealots’ incitements about the Al Aqsa mosque continue. In interviews, these Palestinians say that Israel’s escalation of violence in East Jerusalem has isolated and terrified neighborhoods. “There is no security. You are afraid economically, politically, and physically.” And the individual acts of violence by maddened Palestinians who feel they have nothing to lose reflects the universal demand for human dignity.