Mahmoud Abbas says he aims to have UNGA resolution making State of Palestine a non-member State of the UN this session

Mahmoud Abbas told the UN General Assembly in New York today that:
“Developments over the past year have confirmed what we have persistently drawn attention to and warned of: the catastrophic danger of the racist Israeli settlement of our country, Palestine”…

“The Security Council is called upon to urgently adopt a resolution comprising the basis and foundations for a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that would serve as a binding reference and guide for all if the vision of two-States, Israel and Palestine, is to survive and if peace is to prevail in the land of peace”…

“When, a year ago during the previous session of the General Assembly, we submitted our application for consideration by the Security Council to allow the State of Palestine to assume its rightful place among the nations of the world as a full member in the United Nations, a major and hostile uproar was raised by some against this political, diplomatic, peaceful step aimed at saving the peace process by asserting its basis and foundation. However, our endeavor was aborted, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world supported, and continues to support, our application. Yet, last autumn, when the countries of the world had the opportunity to declare their stance without any restrictions or “veto”, they voted, despite enormous pressures, in strong support of the acceptance of Palestine as a Member State of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)”…

“In order to enhance the chances for peace, we will continue our efforts to obtain full membership for Palestine at the United Nations. And, for the same purpose, we have begun intensive consultations with various regional organizations and Member States aimed at having the General Assembly adopt a resolution considering the State of Palestine as a non-Member State of the United Nations during this session”…

“There is no homeland for us except Palestine, and there is no land for us but Palestine”…

Soon after Abbas spoke, Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told the UNGA that:
“We seek to preserve our historic ties and our historic peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. We seek to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians. President Abbas just spoke here. I say to him and I say to you: We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. That’s not the way to solve it. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood. We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State”…

Egypt's President Morsi backs independent, sovereign Palestinian state

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi put Palestine first in his speech about Egypt’s view of world affairs at the UN General Assembly in New York today: “I call for immediate movement, serious movement, as of now, to put an end to colonization and occupation activities and the denial of self-determination and the alteration of the identity of occupied Jerusalem. I call for a peace that would establish an independent Palestinian state, a sovereign Palestinian state, a peace that will achieve the security and stability long sught by the peoples of the region”.

Is it significant that he called for peace before the establishment of the independent + sovereign Palestinian state? Probably, yes… That would be consistent with the approach Egypt has taken since 1979, which Morsi did not repudiate before the UN General Assembly today.

Morsi said in his speech on Wednesday that “from the premise of defending truth, dignity and freedom, I place the international community before its responsibility which requires the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace, and the putting an and to all forms of occupation of Arab lands…”

He pledged Egypt’s full support for any step the Palestinians planned to take in the UN.

And, he urged other UN members to join him in supporting the Palestinian move: “I call upon you all, just as you supported the Arab revolutions, to lend your support to the Palestinians in their endeavor to regain full independent rights, and to support a people to gain its freedom and establish its independent state, an independent state of Palestine, based on the inalienable rights of the Palestinians”.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama, who is running for re-election in about six weeks’ time, was one of the opening speakers at the opening session of the UN General Assembly’s high-level General Debate. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad spoke this morning. And Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is due to speak to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, apparently to modify the stalled “UN bid” he made with great fanfare a year ago, asking for full membership in the UN for the State of Palestine, which Israel opposed and the U.S. said it would veto.

Morsi said Egypt “will continue to work next to the Palestinian people, supporting them, until they get all their rights, until there is a free world for all the Palestinians and every constituent of the Palestinian people”.

He said “it is shameful that the free world accepts, regardless of justifications provided, that a member of the international community continues to deny the rights of a nation that has been longing for decades for independence”.

Continue reading Egypt's President Morsi backs independent, sovereign Palestinian state

30 years ago today, the world began to hear about the "Forgotten" and "Preventable" massacre in Sabra + Shatila refugee camps near Beirut

Seth Anziska, a doctoral candidate in international history at Columbia University, has written an OpEd in the New York Times entitled “A Preventable Massacre” published here.

The OpEd piece reports on Anziska’s discovery at the Israel State Archives this summer of “recently declassified documents that chronicle key conversations between American and Israeli officials before and during the 1982 massacre” of Palestinian refugees by Lebanese Christian Phalangist militiamen — after the enforced evacuation of PLO leader Yasser Arafat and his fighters.

    UPDATE: Documents from the Israeli State Archives were posted on the NYTimes website to accompany Anziska’s article, here. “The Secretary asked you yesterday to convey our deep conviction that Israel should promptly pull pack…”, an American briefing note for guidance before a meeting with Israeli Ambassador Moshe Arens, “…[but] Today we find the IDF consolidating its positions … I am instructed to ask Israel to have its forces out of West Beirut…immediately”.

But, Israel did not pull back.

The primary massacre in the two adjacent Palestinian refugee camps just south of Beirut took place between 16 – 18 September 1982.

    UPDATE: Israel’s current State Archivist, Yaakov Lozowick, wrote in a post he published on 19 September on the Israel’s Documented Story blog: “30 years ago this week, Lebanese Phalangists murdered hundreds of Palestinian civilians in Sabra and Shatila, two Palestinian camps near Beirut. The IDF had allowed the phalangists into the camps, and according to the Kahan Commission’s investigation after the events, Israel bore indirect responsibility for the massacre because its troops controlled access to the camps, knew about the killings, and didn’t stop them. Morally, this was one of Israel’s darkest moments. Much of the military documentation of the 1982 war in Lebanon cannot yet be declassified. Some, however, can and has. The New York Times has an article by Seth Anziska, a researcher who spent time this summer in our reading room going through files, mostly of the Foreign Ministry, which show the tensions between American diplomats and Israeli leaders as the massacre was unfolding. It does not make for easy reading”. This is posted here.

Anziska reports that “In mid-August, as America was negotiating the PLO’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Reagan told Prime Minister Menachem Begin that the bombings ‘had to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered’, Reagan wrote in his diaries”.

American marines had been deployed near Beirut until 10 September 1982.

But on 14 September 1982, Lebanon’s President-elect Bashir Gemayel, a leader of the strongly anti-Palestinian Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia was assassinated, and Anziska writes, “Israel reacted by violating the cease-fire agreement. It quickly occupied West Beirut — ostensibly to prevent militia attacks against the Palestinian civilians. ‘The main order of the day is to keep the peace’, Begin told the American envoy to the Middle East, Morris Draper, on Sept. 15. ‘Otherwise, there could be pogroms’. By Sept. 16, the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] was fully in control of West Beirut, including Sabra and Shatila”.

Robert Fisk, who was in Beirut writing for The Independent and who is still there now, has just written that “Elie Hobeika, the Lebanese Christian militia leader who led his murderers into the camp – after [Israeli Defense Minister Ariel] Sharon had told the Phalange that Palestinians had just assassinated their leader, Bashir Gemayel – was murdered years later in east Beirut. His enemies claimed the Syrians killed him, his friends blamed the Israelis; Hobeika, who had ‘gone across’ to the Syrians, had just announced he would ‘tell all’ about the Sabra and Chatila atrocity at a Belgian court, which wished to try Sharon”. Fisk’s piece, titled “The Forgotten Massacre”, is posted here.

Fisk wrote that “While presidents and prime ministers have lined up in Manhattan to mourn the dead of the 2001 international crimes against humanity at the World Trade Centre, not a single Western leader has dared to visit the dank and grubby Sabra and Chatila mass graves, shaded by a few scruffy trees and faded photographs of the dead. Nor, let it be said – in 30 years – has a single Arab leader bothered to visit the last resting place of at least 600 of the 1,700 victims. Arab potentates bleed in their hearts for the Palestinians but an airfare to Beirut might be a bit much these days – and which of them would want to offend the Israelis or the Americans? It is an irony – but an important one, nonetheless – that the only nation to hold a serious official enquiry into the massacre, albeit flawed, was Israel. The Israeli army sent the killers into the camps and then watched – and did nothing – while the atrocity took place. A certain Israeli Lieutenant Avi Grabowsky gave the most telling evidence of this. The Kahan Commission held the then defence minister Ariel Sharon personally responsible, since he sent the ruthless anti-Palestinian Phalangists into the camps to ‘flush out terrorists’ – ‘terrorists’ who turned out to be as non-existent as Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction 21 years later”…

Continue reading 30 years ago today, the world began to hear about the "Forgotten" and "Preventable" massacre in Sabra + Shatila refugee camps near Beirut

Ignorance is vicious and can kill: U.S. Ambassador to Libya + 3 colleagues die for film on the Prophet Mohammed that hasn't even been released

Ignorance is vicious and can kill.

The violent murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three of his colleagues on Tuesday at the U.S. consulate Tuesday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, by a mob incensed by reports about a movie of unclear origin which has not yet been released is deeply disturbing and revolting.

    UPDATE: It now appears [possibly even earlier than Oct-Nov 2012] that this initial report is untrue — as this report published on 10 November indicated: “The CIA ‘s reporting to Congress included a claim that protests over a YouTube video played a role in the attacks, thus allowing Obama to initially discount the possibility that the U.S. had suffered another terrorist attack just before the election”. This was published here.

UPDATE: U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told journalists at the regular daily briefing in Washington on Thursday, posted here, that: “we said that the circumstances surrounding the death of Ambassador Stevens included the fact that he and two other people – Sean Smith and a regional security officer – were in the main building in Benghazi when it was hit and caught on fire, but in – that the regional security officer attempted to lead the other two out, that he got separated from Ambassador Stevens, that he then got – but when he got to Sean Smith, he was already dead. He pulled him from the building. He went back into the building with additional security forces, but was unable to locate Ambassador Stevens before the fire overcame the building. We were then not able to locate Ambassador Stevens for many, many hours. We were later informed by some of our Libyan contacts that they understood he had been taken to a hospital in Benghazi. We were not able to confirm that, although there is a huge amount of reporting on it. And his body was later returned to us at the airport in Benghazi in the context of our evacuation of the rest of our people. So in response to Matt’s question, we don’t have any definitive information of our own as to exactly when he passed or what the precise causes of death were. I would guess that this is among the things that’ll become clearer as the Libyans work on their investigation with our support”.

About the film itself, Nuland said “I don’t want to get too much into this particular video, because it just gives it more credit than any of us want to. I think you heard the Secretary speak to this issue this morning and to make it clear that we absolutely reject both its message and its content, which we consider disgusting and reprehensible. She said it far better than I can here. The interesting thing about this, as I understand it, is that this had actually been circulating at a relatively low level for some months out there in cyberspace and that it only caught fire in the region on the day or just before the day that we began to see these various protests”.

For hours, nobody even knew what film had caused such a reaction.

AP this morning published a report here trying to identify those behind the film which caused this violence.

AP wrote this morning that:

    “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. He provided the first details about a shadowy production group behind the film. Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cell phone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula’s aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others. Nakoula told the AP that he was a Coptic Christian and said the film’s director supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims. Nakoula denied he had posed as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver’s license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found it and other connections to the Bacile persona. The AP located Bacile after obtaining his cell phone number from Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who had promoted the anti-Muslim film in recent days on his website. Egypt’s Christian Coptic population has long decried what they describe as a history of discrimination and occasional violence from the country’s Arab majority … The YouTube account, ‘Sam Bacile’, which was used to publish excerpts of the provocative movie in July, was used to post comments online as recently as Tuesday, including this defense of the film written in Arabic: ‘It is a 100 percent American movie, you cows”…

    UPDATE: Reuters here on 7 November that: “The convicted California scam artist behind a crude anti-Islam film that stoked protests against the United States across the Muslim world was sent back to jail for a year on Wednesday over probation violations stemming from his role in the video. The Egyptian-born Coptic Christian, who has been publicly identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, but whose legal name is Mark Basseley Youssef, admitted to several probation violations during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. At least one violation involved his use of an alias, Sam Bacile, a name that several actors from the film said he used in producing the video, which was circulated on line under several titles, including ‘The Innocence of Muslims’.”

Continue reading Ignorance is vicious and can kill: U.S. Ambassador to Libya + 3 colleagues die for film on the Prophet Mohammed that hasn't even been released

Cost what it may, Mahmoud Abbas says "We will go to the UN"

Palestinians are in a mess, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a press conference at the Muqata’a in Ramallah to try to address concerns that have increased recently.

The immediate solution he is proposing going back to the UN — this time, to the UN General Assembly — a strategy that many advised the Palestinian leadership to pursue a year ago. But instead, he decided last year to start at the UN Security Council with a demand for full UN membership.

This year, he said, the exact content of the request, which he will either make or merely allude to when he addresses the annual “High-Level Segment” of the UN General Assembly on 27 September, will be determined only after Palestinians carry out consultations with “friends”.

It is not possible to go to the UN General Assembly with the exact same request that was tabled a year ago in the UN Security Council – unless Palestinian “UN bid” is either withdrawn from the UN Security Council, or pressed to a vote which the Palestinians know they will lose, both because 1.) they don’t even have the minimum number of affirmative votes, which is nine out of the Security Council’s 15 members, and also because 2.) even if they did, the U.S. has promised Israel it will exercise its veto to block such a move.

Muhamed Shtayyah, a member of the Fateh Central Committee and adviser to Abbas, said in early June that the new move in the UN General Assembly will ask for recognition of the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders.

Abbas said today that the Palestinians will go back to the UN because “Israel doesn’t meet its obligations, which are 1.) to stop settlements and 2.) recognition of the 4 June 1967 borders.

There has been huge pressure to stop this move, Abbas said, “in all forms – visual, audio, and written”, but “We . will . go . to . the . UN”.

“We will say we are a state under occupation”, Abbas said.

Abbas asked: “Why does the US. Not want us to go to the UN? Why?” He noted that there are, after all, 133 states that do recognize the State of Palestine — with Jerusalem as its capital.

“East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine, whether or not Obama or Romney say it”, Abbas noted.

Abbas added that “the occupied territories are occupied and the whole world knows it”.

Continue reading Cost what it may, Mahmoud Abbas says "We will go to the UN"