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Palestinian youth say the talks with Israel are futile

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Palestinian security forces blocked youth protesters from accessing the Muqataa and beat them with batons at a demonstration against negotiations with Israel, 2013. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Palestinian security forces blocked youth protesters from accessing the Muqataa and beat them with batons at a demonstration against negotiations with Israel, 2013. (Photo: Allison Deger)

Last summer when negotiations resumed between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, hundreds of Palestinian youth took to the streets of Ramallah to protest the Palestinian Authority decrying the talks. In fact August 2013 saw a string of protests from the city center to the Muqataa, the seat of the Palestinian government. And each protest ended the same: the youth were beaten and arrested, undercover agents moved through the crowds, and some dissidents were even taken into police custody from hospital beds.

Today, the April 29th deadline to produce a U.S. engineered framework looms and talks teeter toward collapse. Israeli and Palestinian officials have skirted their limited commitments. Israel is refusing, or delaying, releasing the last round of Palestinian prisoners while the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed 15 letters of accession to United Nations treaties.

At the same time, the youth movement in Ramallah has also retracted. In a series of interviews I did last week, the once-vocal protesters said they do not believe their representatives will listen to their grievances . Since 2011, under the banner of various groups—the March 15th Coalition, a now defunct group that called for reconciliation between Palestinian political factions and Palestinians for Dignity, an also defunct association that sought the end of the Oslo Accords and its economic sister, the Paris Protocols-– these activists have protested the PA without getting any concessions, they said.

Below is a compilation of interviews with young people living or working in Ramallah. Two are activists, one is not. While I spoke with others, some were fearful of the repercussions of talking with a journalist and would not agree to an on-record interview. Attending any gathering of more than ten people is illegal under Israel’s military code over the West Bank, and Palestinian police have arrested and harassed some of the demonstrators.

Bassel, 30, al-Walaja—”without an occupation, or a woman, ha!”

“Things weren’t really planned,” reflected Bassel, 30, an activist from al-Walaja a village outside of Bethlehem, involved with the summer demonstrations. “The idea was to try and step up the struggle against the PA and stop the negotiations.”

‘ I always knew and believed that the PA was an arm of the occupation. But you can’t just have those thoughts, you need to go through the full experience of the confrontation and practice to demonstrate your thoughts.’

Bassel’s political awakening dates to childhood, “My aunt she’s the first one who started to invest in my education about Palestine. Then in 1995 they [the Israeli army] came and took our lands near our house to make a road for settlers.” In 2006 more land was grabbed from al-Walaja to construct the separation barrier around the settlement of Har Gilo. What remained of the village’s agricultural land, excluding an orchard with the oldest known tree in the world, was expropriated in 2013 for an Israeli national park [PDF] nestled over the Green Line.

“So when I was just ten years I was in my first clash with Israelis and I started to feel the direct confrontation and oppression,” said Bassel. By the time he was in high school, four of his classmates had become suicide bombers and three were at the start of life-sentences in Israeli prisons. Was that atypical, to have so many classmates involved in Palestinian armed groups during the second Intifada? “Yes it was unusual,” responded Bassel.

Later Bassel was active protesting the PA in the March 15th Coalition. “The two-year period of the youth activities, it did its partial goal of asking those existential questions about common values. Who are we as a people and what role should we take?

But now he said, “the whole conditions of the period have shifted.” The first period “was to get to the people and try to raise awareness.” Bassel hoped their movement would show the PA was not going to bring Palestinians anything other than “cultural annihilation of society from within.” The second period, where Bassel locates the current moment, in which negotiations may fall off the map or potentially usher in “Oslo II,” (“Personally, there is no difference if it collapses or succeeds”) is one of “building a fall-back mechanism for the people, building a supportive community for the people.”

He concluded, “It’s all about the facts on the ground and the Zionist project is going underway as it always has—successfully.”

In this understanding, the youth protests against negotiations were not over just the rescoring of an old ballad between two peoples in one American-constructed parlor. “Its deeper than that because we are not objecting to just the negotiations and their failures and their success,” he said. “We’re against the whole thing: recognizing Israel, the two-state solution. We’re against all of it in principle. Because we are against the existence of Israel in principle.”

Saja Kisha, 20, Ramallah, student

“We are a hopeless people. Seriously, we just want to live our lives not about Israel or Palestine, just a real regular life,” said Saja Kisha, 20, a Birzeit University student.

If the talks fail, as most analysts are predicting and even the State Department is hinting, there will be “no consequence” said Saja. She bemoaned that her leaders, “They are out of touch,” including President Mahmoud Abbas who has managed to extend his tenure by postponing elections for five years.

Yet Saja feels Palestinians “have in their minds” what they want: an end to Israel’s occupation and an honoring of the UN sanctioned right of return for some seven million Palestinian refugees and their heirs. Polls still reflect around 50 percent of Palestinians back a two-state solution, yet there is an expanding discourse on the one-state solution with around 30 percent hopeful for a bi-national state based on equal rights between the Jordanian River and the Mediterranean Sea.

“But they don’t talk” said Saja “because they are afraid of talking. That’s us, we just hide.”

“Mona,” 30s, Ramallah, human rights worker

“Mona,” (a pseudonym) was also active in the March 15th Coalition and has continued by protesting the PA through Palestinians for Dignity and with the youth movement against talks with Israel. “I’m not in support of negotiations as a principle,” she said.

Mona finds Palestinians are trapped by “overblown expectations of a third intifada,” yet they are exhausted by the trauma of the last intifada that ended in 2002. “There are no political mobilizations happening from anything coming from below, meaning grassroots groups coming together,” she says, aside from a handful of villages engaging in weekly Friday demonstrations against the wall and settlements built on their grounds. Bil’in, Nabi Saleh, Ni’lin—they make the rounds for activist vacations, but they are not the norm. Most villages simply do not have the energy to protest.

Fatigue has set in, Mona continued, “in light of the fact that there has been an increase of Palestinian citizens being killed since the start of negotiations.”

Indeed, three were killed during the talk’s kickoff last summer in a morning raid in Qalandia refugee camp. The reverberation prompted the first of five youth marches against negotiations, the last when Abbas met with 300 Israeli students at the Muqataa in February. Those deaths–which we reported here–spurred the Palestinian negotiating team to announce that they would cancel its next meeting with Israel’s. But the meeting did take place and Palestinian activists were outraged at the absence of backbone in the PA.

“People are nostalgic for a third intifada inspired by the first intifada,” Mona said, but “it’s not going to happen because the conditions that led to the first intifada do not exist anymore.” Those conditions were: the engagement of nearly every sector of society carried out through unions. In Egypt, unions were a driving force behind the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

But for youth activists like Mona, she is old enough to have a childhood before Qalandia checkpoint and to have a green, West Bank-only identification cards. As a girl, she could cross freely to Israel, go to the sea. The closure of the West Bank to the remainder of historic Palestine dates back only to 2000– or 2006 if passengers were willing to take a roundabout route. This idea of a separate Palestinian state therefore represents a surreal loss of mobility and a concocted notion that two peoples must be divided, with one of those peoples living behind a cement wall, she says.

If you told Israelis this, the hawks would point out that only a small portion of the separation barrier is concrete, most consists of fences and barbed wire with a 60 ft. wide no-man’s land. The doves would suggest that although the wall is an ugly stain on Israeli democracy, it prevents suicide bombing (and most would brush over the fact that the wall is not built on the June 1967 line, rather inside the West Bank often between Palestinian villages).

“I still remember the time when [Qalandia] checkpoint wasn’t in existence and our journeys between Jerusalem and Ramallah didn’t take over 10 minutes by car,” says Jalal Abukhater, 19, a blogger at the Electronic IntifadaAt first the crossing “consisted of fences and some plastic barriers,” said Jalal.

“No one thought this checkpoint was going to be a permanent checkpoint and that it will last long. There was another checkpoint only five minutes after it by car; people thought Qalandia was just extra provocation that will soon be removed.”

Of course it was never removed. Instead Qalandia’s panopticon was replicated at places like Shufat refugee camp, situated inside of Jerusalem, and at Qaqilya where private security mans the walk-through.

After coming of age under swelling limitations to freedom of movement, then years of a declining youth activism, Mona lamented, “The confrontation [with the PA] has led us to the belief that it is not the real confrontation we need to have and the real confrontation is hiding in Beit El [an Israeli settlement].” To her, protests had become “futile.”

Twenty years of disenfranchisement 

The Oslo Accords fashioned Palestinian political life into a West Bank-centered game. They broke Gaza from the West Bank in practical ways, like banning direct trade and requiring traveling permits. Its legacy lasts to this day. Just last week a Palestinian Olympian was denied a permit to run in a Bethlehem marathon that was billed a “freedom of movement” race—that’s Oslo in action. And inside the West Bank, the region was rendered a jigsaw of Area A, B, and C (Area A: under Palestinian security and civil control; Area B: under Israel security and Palestinian civil control; and Area C under Israel security and civil control).

Although if Palestinian fragmentation weren’t enshrined by geographic stoppage, then surely it would have come with the new order of pacification and prolonged peace talks. In the late nineties, the West Bank was rumbling with violent attacks on Israel and then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested Arafat quell the outbursts. He did. The newly formed Palestinian Preventative Security broke up demonstrations against Israeli forces, militant groups were arrested at the behest of Israeli authorities. At that time, Arafat, a populist champion, was also criticized as an oligarch in a liberator’s clothes. A “statement by 20 intellectuals” was penned in 1999 as the first notable open denunciation:

More lands are robbed while settlements expand. The conspiracy against the refugees accelerates behind the scenes. Palestinian jails close their doors to our own sons and daughters. Jerusalem has not returned and Singapore has not arrived. The people are divided into two groups: that of the select who rule and steal, and that of the majority which complains and searches for someone to save it.

That seminal year, eight of the letter’s drafters were jailed and three placed under house arrest. Publicly speaking against the reign of the PA was grounds for banishment in a jail cell purgatory. In 2000 when an editor of a Hebron newspaper criticized Arafat, he was given an ultimatum: write favorable somethings about the government, or else. He was summoned by Palestinian police and later turned over to Israeli police, where he was questioned about the same PA-negative article. For his part, Bassel mentioned the 1999 letter from 20 intellectuals against Arafat. He views his activism on a continuum from that time forward. To him the period from the March 15th Coalition to the negotiations protests is only the most recent tension in managing to rebuild after Oslo’s “cultural annihilation of society from within.”

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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52 Responses

  1. seafoid
    seafoid
    April 17, 2014, 12:55 pm

    Back in 2000 it was possible to travel from Ram Allah to East J in servees taxis in 15 minutes. Zionism then entered the terminal stage and started on the walls. It’s a chronic condition, like motor neurone disease.
    The Palestinians live alongside the patient and are healthy. Sometimes Zionism tells them it is not sick but they have learnt to smile and politely agree while wondering why those American Jews don’t take responsibilithy for the patient.

  2. Walid
    Walid
    April 17, 2014, 4:41 pm

    ” In 2000 when an editor of a Hebron newspaper criticized Arafat, he was given an ultimatum: write favorable somethings about the government, or else. He was summoned by Palestinian police and later turned over to Israeli police, where he was questioned about the same PA-negative article. ”

    Telling how the Palestinian and Israeli police cooperated against Palestinian dissidents. More of the same about what Palestinians told Allison, when Edward Said disagreed with Arafat’s policies, his books were banned in the territories. In Said’s own words: “all of us who said that Oslo would be a catastrophic failure were – as “anti-peace” and, by vicious extension, “pro-terrorist”.

  3. adele
    adele
    April 17, 2014, 4:53 pm

    Great to read this, it’s a reminder to all of us why our solidarity is so important, and why we must continue to support the BDS movement. I firmly believe that our activism on the outside will act as an invigorating force for the Palestinian civil society that is currently being violently suppressed by both their own “Oslo” leaders/puppets and by the IDF. If we keep up the pressure those “leaders” will be discredited for what they truly are: Traitors plain and simple. They need to move out of the way and the sooner we can help do that the better.

  4. Citizen
    Citizen
    April 17, 2014, 5:12 pm

    “It’s all about the facts on the ground and the Zionist project is going underway as it always has—successfully.”

    And the funders are everyday Americans, 98% gentile. Nothing has changed this scenario. They remain ignorant. Thank you, US press.

  5. annie
    annie
    April 17, 2014, 5:48 pm

    thanks allison, great report.

  6. DaBakr
    DaBakr
    April 17, 2014, 5:49 pm

    “the oldest known tree in the world…..confiscated by Isreal..” ? I thought the oldest trees were in Ca. USA. Or Norway. or even Lebanon. Bristlecone pines. The Methuselah in Ca. (which I saw, wow) In a conflict where EVERYTHING is disputed and used for point scoring I normally wouldnt’ quibble about an olive tree but I csan;’t even find this tree on the first 5 google hits for biggest trees in world. I’m sure its precious but when you say ‘Israel confiscated the oldest tree in the world’ it has a bit more propagandistic punch then an old tree…may it live forever

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer
      April 17, 2014, 7:48 pm

      Well a 5,000+ year old tree. Maybe the oldest. Maybe the oldest olive tree. Many regions, countries claim the oldest, best, first. It’s pretty much a norm. Your writing it off to propaganda speaks more about you than about the age of the tree. You could actually verify (short of cutting the tree down) it if you had wanted to but apparently not. Much easier to blame propaganda isn’t it.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        April 18, 2014, 7:40 am

        no. much easier to search onlone databases to find ALL the so-called ‘oldest trees’ and while I found what I expected ie: bristlecones, Japanese conifers and even the “oldest olive tree” in Lebanon, I simply did not see this tree in any of the top few geological/arbor sites and concluded that -while it may be very old (and 5000yrs for an olive tree not likely-3000 at best) it is not the ‘old’ part thats of such value. Your really an old geezer if you don’t understand why its more valuable to claim “the Israelis confiscated the oldest tree in the world” And if I really have to explain it…well then its probably too late

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 18, 2014, 9:05 am

        @ DaBakr The theft of a tree is a crime, no matter what its age, size, type.

        BTW Congratulations on demonstrating how sympathizers for Israel’s illegal activities in non-Israeli territories attempt to shift the focus from the illegal and often fatal actions of a regime acting outside the legal extent of its sovereignty, to a non-lethal and largely irrelevant point.

      • Zofia
        Zofia
        April 18, 2014, 6:49 pm

        From the article “Gethsemane Olive Trees Among World’s Oldest”:
        Two famous olive trees often lay claim to being the world’s oldest. The olive tree of Vouves in Chania, Greece, a tree that still produces fruit, is thought to be 2,000 years old according to tree ring analysis. However some scientists believe it is closer to 4,000 years in age. The other contender is the Al Badawi tree in the village of Al Walaja, Bethlehem, which is thought to be between 4,000 and 5,000 years old.
        Link: http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-basics/gethsemane-olive-trees/30151#disqus_thread
        Or: Two diferent groups of Japanese and European experts dated Al Badawi (The Big One), as the Palestinians calls it, between 4,000 and 5,000 years old- from the link below:
        http://www.stopthewall.org/2011/10/24/al-walaja-oldest-olive-tree-world-endangered-occupation
        Hope it will help.

    • Kay24
      Kay24
      April 17, 2014, 9:54 pm

      I don’t know about “oldest” but many ancient olive trees, even 500 years old, giving sustenance, and belonging to the poor Palestinians were stolen, and guess which stolen lands they now “beautify”?
      Here is Jeff Halper taking you on a tour, and revealing disgusting crimes, and the arrogance of an occupier taking advantage of helpless, unarmed, occupied, families. Should make any apologist, if they had a conscience, feel ashamed.

      • puppies
        puppies
        April 18, 2014, 12:06 am

        @Kay24 – What would that invader from another planet know about olive trees, why they were and are sacred, why people who cut it were punished most severely, that it takes one generation to start having fruit and two for it to be edible, that olive and plane trees are the oldest living creatures… He’ll never adapt to Palestine, let him go back where he is from.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr
        April 18, 2014, 7:47 am

        I understand that 100s of olive trees were purchased and used to decorate projects within Israel. I also am aware of shady deals made in dark corners where Israelis of ill repute buy stolen trees from Palestinians OR steal them outright in acts of crime. I am also aware of acts of sabotage whereby radical settlers have uprooted Palestinian olives. But I am alo aware of Palestinian acts of ‘resistance where actors set huge swaths of national park and forrest ablaze. I don’t condone the uprooting of ANY trees in general. I teach and practice advanced Bonsai and have much experience with ME trees. I will admit: trees are innocent of politics and should be left completely out of the conflict-though I know, like everything else, (including disputing the ‘worlds oldest tree’), it won’t be.

      • Kay24
        Kay24
        April 18, 2014, 12:35 pm

        I think you are missing the point, and justifying what is a cruel crime against helpless human beings.
        The illegal settlers are a vicious bunch they have destroyed Palestinian orchards, destroyed olive trees, stolen them, and the poor farmers are deprived of earning an income, and suffer the consequences of the greed and brutality of these settlers. The Israeli government is complicit in these crimes, and are doing absolutely nothing to reign in these terrorists and vandals. The IDF shows disgusting brutality when it comes to dealing with unarmed civilians who peacefully resist, or happen to be near the infamous fence, yet do nothing when it comes to these precious trees, that now line the streets of illegal settlements.
        “A total of some 7,500 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were destroyed or damaged by settlers between January and mid October 2012, according to a recent report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
        Since 2001, half a million olive trees have reportedly been uprooted in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank). It takes an average of ten years before newly planted olive trees can begin producing fruit. Consequently, the ramifications of this widespread vandalism are felt long-term.
        The olive industry in the Occupied Palestinian Territories supports 80,000 families, and accounts for 14% of the OPT economy’s agricultural income.”

      • just
        just
        April 18, 2014, 1:55 pm

        Thanks Kay24. By the way, it’s against Jewish halachic law to destroy these trees……..

        from 2004:

        “The Israeli army has destroyed hundreds of thousands of Palestinian olive and citrus trees throughout the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent years. Yet in a startling admission, a staffer at the Jewish National Fund for Israel (JNF) has written that, “it is against Jewish halachic law to uproot fruit bearing trees.””

        http://electronicintifada.net/content/if-its-against-jewish-law-then-why-israel-doing-it/4966

        and….

        “Police say vandals have damaged a mosque in northern Israel in an attack blamed on a fringe group of Jewish extremists.

        Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld says the door of a mosque in the Arab town of Umm al-Fahm was damaged overnight and the house of worship was sprayed with anti-Arab graffiti.

        He said on Friday that the attack appeared to be the latest “price tag” incident. The phrase is used by a small group of Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government’s pro-Palestinian policies. He said police were investigating.

        Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by the vandals in recent years. The acts have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.”

        http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/vandals-damage-mosque-northern-israel-23375233

        Apparently, condemnation is just a word. No punishment, no accountability, no responsibility. It, therefore, ain’t no “fringe group”.

      • adele
        adele
        April 18, 2014, 2:01 pm

        It’s all lost on debakr, Kay, any reasoning, any compassion, any human feeling.

        Debakr Deconstructed: Bonsai-lover. Happy beneficiary of stolen property and goods. This land was bestowed on my people by the God of Israel. Buggers to the ‘terrorists’ we steal from. Anti-Israel = Anti-semite.

        Debakr is a simple soul, poor dear, we must be patient with his limitations.

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 18, 2014, 3:36 pm

        @ just “By the way, it’s against Jewish halachic law to destroy these trees”

        Deuteronomy 20:19

      • Daniel Rich
        Daniel Rich
        April 19, 2014, 2:18 am
    • talknic
      talknic
      April 18, 2014, 12:47 am

      @ DaBakr ” “the oldest known tree in the world…..confiscated by Isreal..” ? I thought the oldest trees were in Ca. USA. Or Norway. or even Lebanon.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_trees#Old_trees_with_estimated_ages
      The Sisters 6,000–6,800 Olive
      Olea europaea, Baladi/Ayrouni: Genotype Bechealeh, Batroun district, Lebanon Also called “The Sisters Olive Trees of Noah”; alleged to be the world’s oldest living olive tree
      “I csan;’t even find this tree on the first 5 google hits for biggest trees in world”

      “biggest”? What do you look for when you need to wipe your rrrrrs?

      • Zofia
        Zofia
        April 18, 2014, 7:30 pm

        Under Just’s and Talknic’s posts: “By the way, it’s against Jewish halachic law to destroy these trees”- there are no reply buttons, so I will reply here;]
        Dora Apel in “War Culture and the Contest of Images”, p. 195 writes:
        “Yet the uprooting of fruit trees is biblically prohibited, even when they are enemy trees in times of war. Chief Inspector David Kishik, an Orthodox Jew and a settler, explains how contemporary uprooting fits with this biblical prohibition: “[T]he tree is the source of the problem. It’s not just an incidental thing like [it is] in the Bible. Here, the tree is not only a symbol of the Arab’s occupation of the land, but it is also the central means through which they carry out this occupation. . . . It’s not like the tree is the enemy’s , in which case the Bible tells you not to uproot it because it has nothing to do with the fight. Here it has everything to do with it. The tree is the enemy soldier.””
        David Kishik- Chief Inspector of the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank.

      • LeaNder
        LeaNder
        April 19, 2014, 9:31 am

        “The tree is not only a symbol of the Arab’s occupation of the land, but it is also the central means through which they carry out this occupation …”

        Amazing, how one’s own ideologies can be projected onto the other. But also how religion can be twisted to serve more worldly desires.

        My grandfather thought me his love of trees, I am pretty sure based on these memories, that the former owners would recognize their trees. Which no doubt may be sold sometimes in need of means for basic survival created by the occupation. A context turned upside down in the Rabbi’s (?) argument. to what extend would families really resort to sell their trees? And how could one get them to as a really last solution? … Are there merchants looking for trees that get an extra high price?

        I was absolutely baffled by the argument, an argument that seems to fit the larger context of these projective verbal activities, when I first encountered this idea: the Palestinians want to keep Judea & Samaria judenrein.

        But we also have events like putting fire to olive trees, don’t we? There is a much larger context,which shows the supposedly deeply religious may in fact not be, whatever you like to call it: “fake religious”. In fact some may well be turning religious/”observant” in need of a special ethic cloak in this context.

        What I am really wondering about is, that I never noticed these things when I watched the first documentaries about observant religious settles. Deeply puzzled indeed.

        But then, my friend tells me, I do not see things, I haven’t read about. And have come to accept this a basic critique.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        April 19, 2014, 11:42 am

        The reference to destruction because of the symbolic status of the thing destroyed seems quite unpleasant, if Mr. Kishik is correctly quoted, and certainly represents a strained interpretation of Deuteronomy.
        The prophecy of Zephaniah 2:4 ‘Ekron shall be uprooted’ is a play on the meaning of ‘Ekron’ and undoubtedly refers to the destruction of olive groves, since Ekron was, as the archaeologists tell us, the biggest centre of the olive industry. Some connect the prophecy with Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign of December 604 – there must have been quite a crisis for him to have ventured that far west in the winter – and many argue that Ekron was at that time in the Egyptian sphere and that Nebuchadnezzar was already targeting Egypt as his main enemy. The prophet may just possibly be suggesting that the Iraqi invader is doing something which a good Israelite would regard as an atrocity, which would be something to reflect upon.

    • Walid
      Walid
      April 18, 2014, 3:46 am

      DaBakr; you’re playing word games here; the theft of 2000-year antic ring or a theft of a 25 cents plastic ring is still theft and the discussion is about theft.

      • mondonut
        mondonut
        April 18, 2014, 3:03 pm

        @Walid. If theft is theft, then why the need to embellish with obvious falsehoods? Aren’t the falsehoods the real “word games”?

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 19, 2014, 6:27 am

        @ mondonut continues to gape at a small circle of light, quite oblivious to being at the bottom of a latrine.

  7. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    April 17, 2014, 5:55 pm

    Palestinian youth say the talks with Israel are futile, to them maybe, but not to the Israelis who see the opportunity to build more settlements, while the talks take place and no International pressure on them for another year. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was quoted in a published interview as saying he wanted to drag out peace talks with the Palestinians for a decade while vastly increasing the number of Jewish settlers in Israeli-occupied territories. Abbas has doubled that and more than doubled the number of settlers. Oslo should have been stillborn the moment one more settler crossed the green line, once that happened and the Palestinians did nothing,the flood gates opened and now over 20 years later the farce continues.

    • Walid
      Walid
      April 18, 2014, 2:13 am

      “Abbas has doubled that and more than doubled the number of settlers.”

      Harry, maybe someday they’d put up a statue of him in recognition of all his help. We’re in the final days of the theatrics to extend the April 29th term of the agreement that effectively increased the number of new settlements while they talked about nothing. The last-minute Israeli refusal to release the prisoners and Abbas’ live-TV signing of the apps were part of the show to lead up to the extension. Neither Abbas nor the Arab states and the US want a showdown with Israel that would be triggered by the end of the talks, so the talks will be extended with a few face-saving carrots thrown in by the 3 parties.

      A couple of weeks back during his meeting with the Arab Foreign Ministers to get their backing for his refusal of Israel’s Jewishness thing, the League endorsed him and refloated the 2002 Peace Initiative to Israel only this time, it didn’t contain mention of the Palestinians right of return and Abbas went along with it until the sharp Lebanese Foreign Minister caught this little “fast one” and kicked up a storm of protests that forced the League to issue a correction and reassert the RoR. This omission showed where everyone really stood on Palestinians’ rights. You could easily conclude that only Lebanon and Syria are still fighting for these rights.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        April 18, 2014, 2:57 am

        forced the League to issue a correction and reassert the RoR.

        The symbolic RoR.

  8. Hostage
    Hostage
    April 17, 2014, 6:37 pm

    Palestine has signed-on to all of the major international humanitarian law (IHL) and UN human rights conventions. So it will have to periodically answer or account for its behavior to the UN human rights treaty monitoring bodies and respond to the ICRC in its role as the IHL watchdog. Like Israel, equal rights for religious & minority groups and women in Palestine are under UN guarantees contained in resolution 181(II) and its framework for international legitimacy that was acknowledged in Palestine’s 1988 UDI.

    The Oslo Accords reaffirmed the territorial unity of the West Bank and Gaza. It required the parties to treat them as one area for political, economic, legal and other purposes. It also called for Israel to eventually turn over Areas A, B, and C to the Palestinians in incremental phases that were supposed to last only 5 years. What Allison describes above as the results of Oslo, are actually the predictable result of the Netanyahu, Sharon, and Olmert regimes deliberately violating and undermining the agreements.

    Many commentators have noted that the Oslo Accords recognized the PLO’s competence to negotiate borders and assigned tasks to the PA that are likewise reserved exclusively for the government of a state. Even Netanhyahu agreed that the Oslo Accords, if faithfully carried-out, would have resulted in a Palestinian state. John Quigley wrote:

    The Declaration of Principles, Netanyahu pointed out, recited that the Government of Israel and the Palestinian team recognized each other’s legitimate and political rights. Addressing Rabin directly, Netanyahu asked:
    [W]hat are the legitimate and political rights of any nation? A state. What are the legitimate political rights of the Israeli nation? A state. What are the mutual legitimate political rights with the Palestinians? A state for them too. And you gave this away not as a beginning of an agreement, but even before the negotiations on the permanent arrangements have started.

    Netanyahu said that the Declaration of Principles presumed Palestine’s statehood. Using a colorful analogy, Netanyahu explained:
    When you walk into the zoo and see an animal that looks like a horse and has black and white stripes, you do not need a sign to tell you this is a zebra. It is a zebra. When you read this agreement, even if the words a Palestinian state are not mentioned there, you do not need a sign; this is a Palestinian state.

    — Opposition Leader Netanyahu Criticizes Agreement with PLO During Knesset
    Debate, BBC SUMMARY OF WORLD BROADCASTs, Sept. 23, 1993, ME/1801/MED, at 6, available at LEXIS, News Library, BBCMIR File. Cited in John Quigley, Palestine is a State: A Horse with Black and White Stripes is a Zebra, 32Michigan Journal of International Law 749-764 (2011). Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjil/vol32/iss4/3

  9. Bumblebye
    Bumblebye
    April 17, 2014, 10:14 pm

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/10971-icc-is-ready-to-look-at-israels-complaint-against-abbas

    “The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said an international tribunal is authorised to look into Israeli lawyer Mordechai Tzivin’s complaint against the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

    Tzivin filed a complaint against Abbas and senior Hamas leaders to the ICC. In his complaint, he claimed that Abbas is responsible for “terrorist operations” carried out by Hamas against Israelis.”

    It’s way past time that some Palestinian lawyer got off his hindquarters and filed multiple charges against multiple Israelis. Get a few cases up and running in response to this (which will probably be thrown out amidst much judicial tittering).

    There’s simply no point in Palestinians participating in the endless piece-processing of their land by Israel. They’ll just end up living in the holes in the cheese.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      April 18, 2014, 12:26 am

      “The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said an international tribunal is authorised to look into Israeli lawyer Mordechai Tzivin’s complaint against the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

      That’s true enough, but if Mordechai Tzivin isn’t an official of a state, his complaint is only considered a communication under Article 15. The Prosecutor already has over 400 of those regarding the Situation in Gaza alone. FYI the ICC Prosecutor has never yet initiated an investigation “proprio motu” under the terms of Article 15. All of the cases investigated so far, have either been initiated by the UN Security Council or through an official state referral.

      The Office of the Prosecutor can only exercise jurisdiction if it agrees that the State of Palestine’s 2009 Article 12(3) declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC is valid. Even then, it can’t accept referrals of specific cases, only situations and all of the pre-conditions in Article 12 and 13 would still apply:

      Article 12
      Preconditions to the exercise of jurisdiction

      1. A State which becomes a Party to this Statute thereby accepts the jurisdiction of the Court with respect to the crimes referred to in article 5.

      2. In the case of article 13, paragraph (a) or (c), the Court may exercise its jurisdiction if one or more of the following States are Parties to this Statute or have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court in accordance with paragraph 3:

      (a) The State on the territory of which the conduct in question occurred or, if the crime was committed on board a vessel or aircraft, the State of registration of that vessel or aircraft;

      (b) The State of which the person accused of the crime is a national.

      3. If the acceptance of a State which is not a Party to this Statute is required under paragraph 2, that State may, by declaration lodged with the Registrar, accept the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court with respect to the crime in question. The accepting State shall cooperate with the Court without any delay or exception in accordance with Part 9.

      Article 13
      Exercise of jurisdiction

      The Court may exercise its jurisdiction with respect to a crime referred to in article 5 in accordance with the provisions of this Statute if:

      (a) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the Prosecutor by a State Party in accordance with article 14;

      (b) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations; or

      (c) The Prosecutor has initiated an investigation in respect of such a crime in accordance with article 15.

      Article 14
      Referral of a situation by a State Party

      1. A State Party may refer to the Prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed requesting the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes.

      2. As far as possible, a referral shall specify the relevant circumstances and be accompanied by such supporting documentation as is available to the State referring the situation.

      http://web.archive.org/web/20130310172833/http://untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/99_corr/cstatute.htm

      It’s way past time that some Palestinian lawyer got off his hindquarters and filed multiple charges against multiple Israelis.

      That has already been done. The materials Palestine turned over to the court are being held under seal. That is normally done to protect the officials and any witnesses from reprisals. Everyone seems to forget that Palestine and four other ICC member states are represented in the Arab League, which commissioned its own independent international fact finding mission to Gaza. It was headed-up by John Dugard, who has served as a Judge of the International Court of Justice, as a Special Rapporteur for the International Law Commission, and as UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

      He and the other members of the mission turned over a 254 page “Report of the Independent Fact Finding Committee On Gaza: No Safe Place” to the ICC Prosecutor before the UN Goldstone investigation was completed. http://web.archive.org/web/20100904180212/http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2008/Report%20full.pdf

      • Bumblebye
        Bumblebye
        April 18, 2014, 7:23 am

        Has the ICC ever got as far as opening an international tribunal to look into the complaints from Palestine? I can only think of the Russell Tribunal (which Dugard has also worked with), but that’s an independent entity afaik.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      April 18, 2014, 6:58 am

      Looks like there’s some recognition within Palestinian leadership of what you say: Looks like the Palestinian leadership has finally figured out the US is not an honest broker in the I-P peace talks: http://linkis.com/www.al-monitor.com/p/Vb2Hs

  10. tommy
    tommy
    April 17, 2014, 11:29 pm

    Palestinians have already begun the process of bypassing Israel by using the recognition of the UN to advance its cause. They should initiate negotiations directly with the US at every opportunity, appealing for the same subsidies Israel receives and continually presenting evidence of Israeli crimes against Palestine and Israeli violations of terms for US aid.

    • Hostage
      Hostage
      April 18, 2014, 9:58 am

      They should initiate negotiations directly with the US at every opportunity, appealing for the same subsidies Israel receives

      The US has already received notifications from the UN Secretary General, acting as the treaty depositary, that there is a new State party to the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations and Consular Affairs. Whether the President or State Department chooses to upgrade the status of the PLO mission to the US, or not, it still has a treaty obligation to deal with Palestine, as another State, as of 2 May 2014.

      I’d suggest that they condition extension of the talks on the release of the political prisoners in the Holy Land Charities case.

  11. asherpat
    asherpat
    April 18, 2014, 4:29 am

    Is the indignant, modern-looking lady on the main photo pro- or anti-peace? Let’s look at the picture on her T-Shirt!

    • talknic
      talknic
      April 18, 2014, 9:19 am

      @ asherpat “Is the indignant, modern-looking lady on the main photo pro- or anti-peace? Let’s look at the picture on her T-Shirt!”

      WOW!! Indeed. Pictures are so lethal, right? Israel maintains its ghastly occupation and illegal acquisition of territory by force of lethal arms!

      There’s a picture on a ‘T’shirt and batons from what I can see.

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 18, 2014, 9:29 am

      >> Let’s look at the picture on her T-Shirt!

      And if you get up close enough to the shirt, you might even be able to obscure the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel’s 60+ years, on-going and offensive (i.e., not defensive) campaign of aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction, torture and murder that’s taking place around you.

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 18, 2014, 11:58 am

        @ eljay ” Israel’s 60+ years, on-going and offensive (i.e., not defensive)”

        To the greatest possible extent, we will remain constantly on the offensive, which will not be confined to the borders of the Jewish State. http://pages.citebite.com/v3w1b3y3n2nhl

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      April 18, 2014, 9:40 am

      asherpat, you are a typical Zionist: a hypocrite who questions another’s commitment to peace when you and your state have never done a single thing, in the entire history of the conflict, to advance a true, just peace.

      • asherpat
        asherpat
        April 18, 2014, 10:22 am

        @Woody, who is a hypocrite? Someone who from a position of force (1993) gives control of territory, arms militias of an organisation whose charter calls for the giver’s destruction, pays moneys and signs an agreement to resolve everything by mutual understanding (these are facts about Israel), or someone who takes all the above in exchange of breaking the signed agreements and whining that “talks are futile”?

        May I suggest then a mental exercise? You, Israel’s harsh critics (this is of course an understatement, you wud slit our throats (or cheer those who wud do it, vast majority of you re liberal sissies) at the first opportunity) fervently criticize Israel’s conniving unfairness and breaking of promises. Therefore, logically, you shud agree to reverse those “futile” talks, i.e., what happened until today and neutralize Oslo agreements, after all, Israel got everything and the poor Palestinians – nothing (“futile”).

        So you agree then that it is better to send PLO back to Tunis, give-up Palestinian own governance in Areas B and C (vast majority of the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria) to military rule of Israel? If you answer is “No”, then how does it settle with the mantra of “Palestinians have got nothing (“futile”) out of this process”? I await your logic.

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 18, 2014, 4:25 pm

        Therefore, logically, you shud agree to reverse those “futile” talks, i.e., what happened until today and neutralize Oslo agreements, after all, Israel got everything and the poor Palestinians – nothing (“futile”).

        So you agree then that it is better to send PLO back to Tunis,

        To complete the mental exercise, the PLO would have to go back to Lebanon from Tunis, and then back to Israel and Palestine from Lebanon. Then, according to the evil designs of Israel’s cut-throat, implacable enemies here at MW and in the BDS movement, all of the Jews from Arab and European counties would be welcome to stay-on and enjoy equal human rights under the generous terms of either a 1ss or the 2ss.

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 18, 2014, 4:56 pm

        @ asherpat

        “you wud slit our throats (or cheer those who wud do it, vast majority of you re liberal sissies) at the first opportunity) “

        My what a fertile imagination

        “So you agree then that it is better to send PLO back to Tunis …… I await your logic”

        Tunis ? Logic to a Zionist colonizer is like holy water to Nosferatu

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        April 18, 2014, 9:26 pm

        “@Woody, who is a hypocrite?”

        You, asherpat, you paranoid, slandering freak. You cheer on one of the most powerful militaries in the history of the world as it attack an essentially defenseless population for sport, and you have the nerve to complain because of the t-shirt this woman is wearing? You are the hypocrite.

        And no, outsourcing part of the oppression of the Palestinian population to the PA while allowing an invasion of lunatic settlers to steal the Palestinians’ land is not, in any way, advancing a true and just peace.

  12. Hostage
    Hostage
    April 18, 2014, 9:32 am

    Has the ICC ever got as far as opening an international tribunal to look into the complaints from Palestine?

    No, the former prosecutor wasted 3 years evaluating the statehood of Palestine, then admitted he wasn’t even empowered to do that, after the UNESCO vote had legally settled the matter. Then he played dumb and claimed that Palestine’s observer status at the UN, made it’s status unclear and that it was up to the Secretary General or the Assembly of State Parties to decide the question. That was incorrect, since the Secretary General is required to accept accessions to multilateral treaties from any member of a UN specialized agency, like UNESCO under the terms of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. For example, the Secretary General accepted the accession of the Cook Islands to join the ICC on the strength of its membership in specialized agencies alone, since it has never been a UN observer state. After the General Assembly upgraded Palestine’s status, the new Prosecutor finally admitted she could use the 2009 Article 12(3) declaration of Palestine to exercise jurisdiction, but said that she wouldn’t, unless Palestine joins the court. That defeats the purpose of Article 12(3), which is intended to allow non-member states to grant jurisdiction over crimes without the need to become a permanent dues-paying member of the ICC.

    The thing to keep in mind is that there’s no guarantee that the Prosecutor will take any action at all, even if Palestine joins the Court. See The OTP’s [Office of the Prosecutor’s] Remarkable Slow-Walking of the Afghanistan Examination http://opiniojuris.org/2013/12/01/otps-remarkable-slow-walking-afghanistan-examination/

    The article you are talking about is propaganda. The ICC is a criminal tribunal and there is no such thing as a counterclaim lawsuit. Palestine already accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC for any crimes listed in Article 5 of the Rome Statute that have been committed on its territory by any party since July of 2002. The Prosecutor does not need to wait for Palestine to file complaints against Israelis in order to investigate or prosecute Abbas or other Palestinians, this is incorrect:

    Last year, Mordechai Zivin filed a complaint against Abbas and senior members of Hamas at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In a formal response, The Hague told Zivin that his complaint could only be discussed when the courts had the authority to discuss it – in other words, if and when Abbas submitted a complaint against Israelis.

    In any event, he is talking as if Palestinian officials can be held civilly liable in the ICC, which is not the case:

    Zivin argues that Abbas is personally responsible for terror attacks resulting in the murder of innocent civilians, and he should therefore be tried in an international court.

    He found legal grounds for naming Abbas personally responsible after the Palestinian Authority was granted the status of “Observer State” in the UN, and Abbas registered himself as that nation’s leader.

    As the head of that Observer State, Zivin argues that Abbas is therefore responsible for what occurs under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority – including terror attacks emanating from the West Bank or Gaza.

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4511018,00.html

    In the past the ambulance chasers have filed suits in civil courts against the PLO for terror attacks committed by Hamas, by arguing that it exercised jurisdiction and could be held liable, because it wasn’t a “state” entitled to foreign sovereign immunity. That won’t work anymore, and the ICC doesn’t handle civil tort cases anyway. The ICC is a criminal court where the Prosecutor has to present evidence at trial to establish an individual’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    • Bumblebye
      Bumblebye
      April 18, 2014, 9:47 am

      Thank you Hostage.

    • asherpat
      asherpat
      April 18, 2014, 11:29 am

      If the ICC is objective, then Israel has nothing to worry – its statutes are clear that ICC will only intervene when the relevant party doesn’t have the ability or doesn’t want to prosecute crimes by its own judiciary. Since Israel’s judicial system is well respected (eg British supreme court, or whatever they call it now has acknowledged it), then unless the ICC is a sham like the UNHRC (controlled by human rights luminaries such as Saudi, Syria and Lybia) then Israel will not be prosecuted. What do you think, Hostage?

      • amigo
        amigo
        April 18, 2014, 3:49 pm

        “Since Israel’s judicial system is well respected (eg British supreme court, or whatever they call it now has acknowledged it),”asherpat

        Source please.

        What colour is the sky on your planet.

        Read the following.It may help to clear your head of all that confused thinking you so naively demonstrate.

        Israel Commits Crimes Without Punishment

        By Stephen Lendman

        February 10, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – Israel is a rogue state. It’s a serial abuser. It commits crimes without punishment. It tolerates no criticism.

        Last May, it suspended contact with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

        On April 30, Haaretz headlined “Israel joins UN list of states limiting human rights organizations,” saying:

        Censure followed an earlier Ministerial Committee on Legislation approval to restrict foreign governments from funding NGOs. It should have been for crimes against humanity. Israel commits them daily.

        It spurns fundamental rule of law principles. It rejects Fourth Geneva’s de jure applicability. It’s defied dozens of UN resolutions. It ignored the International Court of Justice’s 2004 condemnation of its Separation Wall.

        It refused cooperation with the Goldstone Commission on Cast Lead. In 2012, it denied UN investigators entry to collect testimonies on its

        http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article33902.htm

      • amigo
        amigo
        April 18, 2014, 4:00 pm

        So if Israel has nothing to worry about , why all the efforts to keep them from joining the ICC.

        You really do spout nonsense .

      • Hostage
        Hostage
        April 18, 2014, 4:32 pm

        If the ICC is objective, then Israel has nothing to worry – its statutes are clear that ICC will only intervene when the relevant party doesn’t have the ability or doesn’t want to prosecute crimes by its own judiciary.

        No, we’ve long-since reached the point where Israel’s judiciary became part of the joint criminal enterprise and began citing Knesset statutes to overturn the laws and customs of war and justify grave breaches of the Geneva and Hague Conventions to wrongfully expropriate land for illegal settlements, instead of land for peace, and to deliberately persecute Palestinians.

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 18, 2014, 5:06 pm

        @ asherpat “Since Israel’s judicial system is well respected (eg British supreme court, or whatever they call it now has acknowledged it)”

        Source, date

        “then unless the ICC is a sham like the UNHRC (controlled by human rights luminaries such as Saudi, Syria and Lybia)”

        The same UNHRC Israel seeks to join?

        “then Israel will not be prosecuted”

        Why is it supporters of Israel’s illegal activities have no idea of what they’re talking about?

        The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent, permanent court that tries persons http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/about%20the%20court/icc%20at%20a%20glance/Pages/icc%20at%20a%20glance.aspx

      • Donald
        Donald
        April 18, 2014, 5:11 pm

        “UNHRC (controlled by human rights luminaries such as Saudi, Syria”

        That doesn’t make sense even as propaganda–Saudi Arabia and the Syrian government are enemies. And if you mean the United Nations Human Rights Council, they are extremely critical of Syria. link

        Here’s a quote from that organization that is controlled by Syria–

        “In a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.7) on the continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, adopted by a vote of 32 in favour, 4 against and 11 abstentions, the Council decides to extend the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry through to the twenty-eighth session of the Human Rights Council, and requests the Commission to present a written report during an interactive dialogue at the twenty-seventh and the twenty-eighth sessions of the Council and to provide an oral update during an interactive dialogue at the twenty-sixth session; demands that the Syrian authorities grant the Commission of Inquiry immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic; strongly condemns the continued gross, systematic and widespread violations of human rights and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and affiliated militias that may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity; demands that all parties demilitarize medical facilities, schools and other civilian facilities; strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons and all indiscriminate methods of warfare in the Syrian Arab Republic; expresses its support for the efforts of the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States to find a negotiated political solution to the Syrian crisis; encourages the full participation of women in political talks; strongly condemns the intentional denial of humanitarian assistance to civilians and deplores the deteriorating humanitarian situation; strongly condemns the use by the Syrian authorities of starvation of civilians as a method of combat, and further condemns the besiegement of civilians; further strongly condemns all acts of violence directed against humanitarian actors; and urges the international community to provide urgent financial support to enable the host countries to respond to the growing humanitarian needs of Syrian refugees.”

        Yeah, that sure sounds like an organization which is in the Syrian government’s pocket.

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