29 November 1947 – UN calls for creation of Jewish State + Arab State in Palestine

That’s right: 63 years ago today, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 181 which calls for the establishment of a Jewish State and an Arab State in Palestine.

For 63 years, the “international community” as we know it has backed the establishment of a Jewish State.

Six months later, the State of Israel was proclaimed as a Jewish state by virtue of UN General Assembly resolution 181.

And, though some argue otherwise, this is “international legitimacy” — a term coined by Palestinians, many of whom wish to preserve an option for their national rights based on UN resolutions and international treaties and various other agreements that are now called international law.

In November 1988, the Palestinians themselves declared independence, based on this same UN General Assembly resolution 181. But, it remains unrealized. Vague Palestinian pronouncements are met with threats against any “unilateral” actions — though Israel is perhaps the world’s foremost practitioner of “unilateral” actions , the country of “unilateral” actions par excellence .

So, how is it that we are all still talking past each other?

And, how did this situation come to be?

Continue reading 29 November 1947 – UN calls for creation of Jewish State + Arab State in Palestine

Sam Bahour: "economic zones" for Palestinian job creation in West Bank cannot solve any problem as long as Palestinian economy is "micromanaged by a foreign military"

American-Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour, living in Ramallah, writes in Haaretz today another version of his recent analysis criticizing “feel-good plans” to solve the Middle East morass by providing jobs (primarily factory assembly-line jobs) to Palestinians in the West Bank to invest them into salaries, pensions (and, ultimately, even mortagages — something previously unheard-of in Palestinian areas) as a way to make impossible, for financial considerations, any further resistance to the continued effects of occupation, and continued denial of human and political rights.

Sam notes that “These mega-employment projects present a serious challenge to those who are striving to build an independent and viable economic foundation for a future Palestinian state. Because the zones will be dependent on Israeli cooperation to function, and because they will exist within an Israeli-designed economic system that ensures Palestinian dependence on Israel, they cannot form the basis of a sovereign economy. Relying on them will perpetuate the status quo of dependency and risks further entrenching Israel’s occupation, albeit possibly under another name, like statehood … Although the sectorial theme of each zone, assuming it has already been decided, has not been made public, if existing zones (such as the maquiladoras in Mexico, or those in Jamaica ) are any indication, the zones in Palestine will host “dirty” businesses – those that are pollution-prone and sweatshop-oriented. Jordan’s Qualified Industrial Zones provide a regional example. Like many others around the world, they are notorious for their exploitative labor practices. According to two consultants to the Israeli government, the West Bank zones, several of which are already under construction, are planned to employ 150,000-200,000 Palestinians, nearly the same number that used to travel daily to Israel for work before the second intifada”.

His analysis in Haaretz can be read in full here.

Palestinian argument about Jewish connection to Western Wall

The Palestinian Deputy Minister of Information, Mutawakkel Taha (a poet who was formerly head of the Palestinian writers union) has apparently published a 5-page document in Arabic on his Ministry’s website presenting an unreformed position arguing Muslim “ownership” of the site.

It was not immediately possible to find this document, or determine what, exactly, it says.

(There is, at the moment, no Palestinian Minister of Information, and the current Palestinian Authority government spokesman Ghassan Khatib is apparently in overall charge of the Information Ministry, though the lines of authority are confusing, and could be considered in flux.)

This position described in the Israeli press as being laid out in this document has been enunciated before by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and by his negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo (now Executive Secretary of the PLO, and head of Palestinian Television), and also by Palestinian officials who have held posts at the Waqf (Islamic trust foundation) that “owns” the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock which are the two religious buildings that now exist on the mosque esplanade that Muslims call the Haram ash-Sharif.

The same site is known to Jews as the Temple Mount — because it is believed that the Second and possibly also the First Jewish Temple were built on the esplanade. So far, archeological excavations have found evidence of the Second Temple, but nothing so far from the earlier First Temple.

Some Israelis and Jews are angry that Muslim renovations under the Al-Aqsa Mosque were conducted with disregard for Jewish interests in finding remains that might help clear up the history of the site.

Both Jewish temples were destroyed (the First Temple was destroyed in 586 BC, and the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD), centuries before the arrival of Islam.

The Western Wall was built, or expanded, by Herod, to contain an enlarged site for the Second Jewish Temple. Since its destruction, only this Western Wall remains public, and it has been a site of Jewish longing and prayer throughout the centuries (with, it is true, various restrictions at different times). Some of the stones in the lower portion of the Western Wall might have been placed there during the time of the First Temple.

Since the advent of Islam in the latter part of the 6th century AD, the two mosques were built — no Jewish structure was destroyed for their construction. These two buildings have been in continuous use for Muslim prayer for 1400 years.

Muslims now fear that messianic Jewish groups want to destroy these mosques to rebuilt the Jewish Temple.

Tonight, the Israeli Government Press Office sent around this statement attributable to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu: “The Palestinian Authority Information Ministry’s denial of the link between the Jewish People and the Western Wall is reprehensible and scandalous. The Western Wall has been the Jewish People’s most sacred place for almost 2,000 years, since the destruction of the Second Temple … When the Palestinian Authority denies the link between the Jewish People and the Western Wall, it calls into serious question its intentions of reaching a peace agreement, the foundations of which are coexistence and mutual recognition. The Government of Israel expects Palestinian Authority leaders to disavow and condemn the aforesaid document, refrain from distorting historical facts and encourage the creation of a bridge to peace that will lead to an historic reconciliation between the two peoples”.

Fervent adherents of both Islam and Judaism have made all kinds of outrageous statements denying each other’s claims. Very few (if any) calls are being made to acknowledge the legitimacy of both sets of claims.

The Western Wall is considered a historic site with religious signifcance. Prayers are performed there, but it is not a synagogue, and in fact there is no synagogue along the Western Wall.

Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are places of worship, with historic significance.

This is a moment when outside help would be useful…

UPDATE: At the end of November, the U.S. commented that the report by Mutawwakal Taha is “factually incorrect, insensitive, and highly provocative”. While that may be true, this U.S. comment is not — NOT— what is needed. Nor is it helpful…

Israel's tourism success

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism has just welcomed visitor 3,000,001 in 2001 — a record, apparently.

And, it is launching a four-month advertising campaign on Fashion TV (because, it says, FTV viewers are “a broad quality market with the means to travel to Israel”) — a campaign that is expected to be viewed in some 200 (!) countries.

A press release from the Tourism Ministry says that “With the arrival earlier this week of Israel’s record-breaking 3,000,001st tourist and the declaration that 2010 will be an all-time high for incoming tourism, the successful intensive marketing efforts of the ministry will continue into the coming years, in accordance with the ministry’s target of 4 million tourists by 2012 and 5 million by 2015″…

Sarkozy looses it + attacks journalists during press conference

French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who looked years younger (with the aid of pink powder? Or was it due to his wife’s care?) during an astonishing interview in mid-November with three famous French TV journalist (during which he made an astonishing and evidently well-rehearsed ode to his wife — why not talk about politics and take advice if you have such an intelligent woman by your side, he said), had an even more astonishing encounter with a broader press corps during a news conference at the sidelines of the NATO summit this week.

A journalist from France 2 Television asked him about a document which had his name on it … and Sarkozy goes off and compares this to someone having to deny that he is a “pedophile”. Liberation has the transcript:

Nicolas Sarkozy: “Est-ce qu’il y en a un seul parmi vous qui a vu un document qui me mette en cause ni de près, ni de loin ? Mais moi, sous prétexte que je suis président de la République, et que j’ai été porte-parole de la campagne de Balladur… Mais en quoi ? Y a-t-il un document qui me mette en cause, un seul ?»

Un journaliste : «Il semblerait qu’il y ait votre nom, que vous ayez donné votre aval à la création de deux sociétés au Luxembourg…»
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Travel ban on Palestinian map expert in Jerusalem extended for another 6 months + Abu Tir court hearing against deportation from Jerusalem postponed to 8 December

Palestinian map expert Khalil Tufakji has reported that he was summoned to the Russian Compound in West Jerusalem on Tuesday to be informed that the travel ban imposed on him six months ago, would be extended for another six months.

This time, however, Tufakji indicated he intends to appeal the decision. The Israeli human rights organization Adalah (the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) will file the appeal on his behalf.

The story was reported here.

Meanwhile, the court hearing for Mohammad Abu Tir a Hamas-affiiated member of the now-expired Palestinian Legislative Council who was arrested after having served over four years in Israeli prison for his electoral victory and is now fighting a deportation order from “Jerusalem” (however that is defined – his home is in Sur Baher) has been deferred until 8 December. This is reported here/

Al-Araqib – an Israeli Bedouin village in the Negev – destroyed again at dawn for 7th time

Today, at dawn, the rebuilt tent structures that now constitute the unrecognized Israeli Bedouin village of Al-Araqib (Al-Arakib) in the Negev were destroyed, again — for the seventh time — by Israeli bulldozers protected by Israeli military forces.

Israeli bulldozers, destroying tents housing Israeli citizens, some of whom served in the Israeli Defense Forces… in order to plant a forest, financed by the Jewish National Fund, in the Negev desert…

[Al-Araqib was destroyed, then partially rebuilt, on 27 July, 6 August, 10 August, 17 August, 13 September and once more recently before today — while several other nearby villages were destroyed on 3 August. Bedouin communities have also been destroyed in the West Bank, including in the Jordan Valley.]

We posted here on 27 August some important background via Haaretz, here.

Some of our other posts on this incomprehensible destruction, which is terrible public relations among other things, are here, on 13 September, and here, on 17 August, and here, on 10 August .

I’m still travelling, and am now in Paris, looking forward to Thanksgiving with dear friends… will post again when possible.

PA PM Fayyad lists defects in "peace process"

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in an interview with the Saudi-owned, London-based Arabic-language daily newspaper that “While continuing Israeli settlement activity is undoubtedly bad, it is not as serious and threatening as these American guarantees and undertakings. Let us consider the issue of keeping an Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley: The Israelis want to keep their army in that area for decades. What sovereignty would a Palestinian state enjoy when it is hemmed in by Israeli troops on all sides? What is even more serious is that these U.S. guarantees are preventing us from internationalizing the problem, which is one of the few tools we have in our hands. I hope that what I am saying is not reported in a way that appears as if I am not against settlements. On the contrary. All these guarantees were given in the hope that Netanyahu would extend his moratorium by two months, which in any case does not include Jerusalem or the major settlement blocks. This is nonsense, and we reject it completely”.

Continue reading PA PM Fayyad lists defects in "peace process"