Jordan Valley: Jericho water well in danger — it's in Area A on Palestinian map, but Israeli military map says it's Area C – UPDATED

Israeli military activity in the Jordan Valley has increasingly targetted isolated and poor Bedouin communities in recent months, following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent public raising — again — of an Israeli claim to retain control, for security reasons, of the border area along the Jordan River and of large parts of the Jordan Valley, which constitutes a large part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Surprisingly, one gleaming new privately-owned Palestinian family agricultural enterprise in Jericho, a date palm farm and a separate packing factory not far from the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley, has also been hit with sudden demolition orders for an essential new well it was digging, adjacent to an established well it has been using that was licensed and opened when the West Bank was under direct Jordanian rule in 1961.

Both of the wells are in danger of demolition, according to the orders issued in late July by the Israeli Defense Ministry’s “Civil Administration” in the West Bank.

This is a large-scale business venture, with real potential to advance development of the Palestinian agricultural sector — one of the motors of the future Palestinian economy.

Four thousand threatened date palm trees under cultivation are on the verge of producing fruit in the coming weeks.

But, if the water wells are destroyed, the date palm trees will soon die in the summer heat that sometimes reaches 50 degrees Centigrade.

Manasrah date pale tree farm in Jericho - photo by Mohamed Jaradat

Continue reading Jordan Valley: Jericho water well in danger — it's in Area A on Palestinian map, but Israeli military map says it's Area C – UPDATED

Discussion in Jerusalem: We are now in a period of unknown change

There was a “book discussion” Thursday evening at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem.

The book is almost unimportant, by comparison with the discussion.

In addition to the author [a young German], there were two panelists: Dr. Mahdi Abdel Hadi [PASSIA] and Amira Hass [journalist for Haaretz].

Abdel Hadi said, at the end of a description of four eras in Palestinian political life [we are now in the fourth, which is “change, led by the people”] that: “There is a madness in the changes occurring in Israel today, and there is fear among Palestinians… Anything can happen now, anything”.

Amira Hass was emotional, and strong. She spoke last, and said that what she missed in the discussion “is a small reminder that we are dealing with a subjugator people and a subjugated people. The word occupation is overused and worn out”.

She exclaimed — really exclaimed! — that “A people — us — have become expert in subjugation! We, of all the peoples in the world! The more I live here, and the more I see, the less I can write about this — there are so many sophisticated, sly, malicious details about this subjugation … What has been developed here for the past 63 years needs new vocabularies, if only for the simple fact that it’s us Jews, of all people, scheming in so many ways, so many incredible ways, to subjugate this indigenous people”.

She said: “I see [in the audience] many Westerners and diplomats in front of me, and I’m angry with you! What are you doing? Don’t you see this is going to a disaster? Why are you standing idle?

Continue reading Discussion in Jerusalem: We are now in a period of unknown change

Gideon Levy: self-censorship is worse than censorship

Haaretz author Gideon Levy was interviewed by Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa on free expression for journalists in Israel. The interview is published in Haaretz,

In it, Levy tells Vargas Llosa that “The media in Israel, most of them, are the biggest collaborators to the occupation”.

Here are some excerpts:

Question (Mario Vargas Llosa): Would you say then that in Israel there is total freedom of expression and that the media reflect daily exactly what is going on, without any kind of censorship?

Answer (Gideon Levy of Haaretz): “Absolutely not.  The media are the biggest collaborators.  The media in Israel, most of them, are the biggest collaborators to the occupation.  There is no censorship in Israel, almost none.  There is something that is much worse than censorship —  self-censorship, because in self-censorship there is never resistance…

Continue reading Gideon Levy: self-censorship is worse than censorship

World Bank says Palestine will continue to rely on donor aid unless Israel eases up

“Donor countries will have to keep giving large amounts of aid to the Palestinian government in the foreseeable future, unless Israel eases access of Palestinian goods to Israeli and world markets, the World Bank said in a report Friday”, according to a story published by Israel’s YNet on Friday. YNEt added that “The warning came ahead of a meeting of representatives of donor countries next week in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The donors are to review their aid scheme, which is based on the assumption that injecting large funds into the Palestinian territories will boost the economy and make the Palestinians gradually less dependent on aid. Donor countries have given billions of dollars to the Palestinians since 1993, in an attempt to prop up an economy battered by conflict with Israel and severe Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement … [T]he West Bank and Gaza, on either side of Israel, remain cut off from each other. Palestinian exports from the West Bank are hampered by slow movement of goods through Israeli-controlled crossings into Israel or Jordan. The Abbas government is still short of money, the bank said, citing a $400 million financing gap for this year. The government’s net revenues were more than 15 percent below target in the first half of 2009, the report said”. The YNet story can be read in full here.

Ilan Pappe on Palestine today

Israeli “new historian” Ilan Pappe has written a piece entitled The mega prison of Palestine that has been published in The Electronic Intifada on 5 March 2008, in which he sees the distinct outlines of a new or if not at least clearer Israeli strategy, and mentions the implications for the “peace process”.

Pappe writes that “in recent weeks a clearer Israeli strategy towards the Gaza Strip’s future has emerged and it is part of the overall new thinking about the fate of the occupied territories in general. It is in essence, a refinement of the unilateralism adopted by Israel ever since the collapse of the Camp David ‘peace talks’ in the summer of 2000. [n.b., I would argue that Israel has followed a unilateralist policy since the get-go, and this was clear in Lebanon, if it was not clear within Palestine, much earlier] Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, his party Kadima, and his successor Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, delineated very clearly what unilateralism entailed: Israel would annex about 50 percent of the West Bank, not as a homogeneous chunk of it, but as the total space of the settlement blocs, the apartheid roads, the military bases and the ‘national park reserves’ (which are no-go areas for Palestinians). This was more or less implemented in the last eight years. These purely Jewish entities cut the West Bank into 11 small cantons and sub-cantons. They are all separated from each other by this complex colonial Jewish presence. The most important part of this encroachment is the greater Jerusalem wedge that divides the West Bank into two discrete regions with no land connection for the Palestinians. The wall [n.b., I refer to it as The Wall] thus is stretched and reincarnated in various forms all over the West Bank, encircling at times individual villages, neighborhoods or towns. The cartographic picture of this new edifice gives a clue to the new strategy both towards the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“The 21st century Jewish state is about to complete the construction of two mega prisons, the largest of their kind in human history. They are different in shape: the West Bank is made of small ghettos and the one in Gaza is a huge mega ghetto of its own. There is another difference: the Gaza Strip is now, in the twisted perception of the Israelis, the ward where the ‘most dangerous inmates’ are kept. The West Bank, on the other hand, is still run as a huge complex of open air prisons in the form of normal human habitations such as a village or a town interconnected and supervised by a prison authority of immense military and violent power.

As far as the Israelis are concerned, the mega prison of the West Bank can be called a state. Advisor to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, Yasser Abed Rabbo, in the last days of February 2008, threatened the Israelis with a unilateral declaration of independence, inspired by recent events in Kosovo. However, it seemed that nobody on the Israeli side objected to the idea very much. This is more or less the message a bewildered Ahmed Qurei, the Abbas-appointed Palestinian negotiator, received from Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, when he phoned to assure her that Abed Rabbo was not speaking in the name of the PA. He got the impression that her main worry was is in fact quite the opposite: that the PA would not agree to call the mega prisons a state in the near future“…

This article can be read in its entirety here .

Palestinians are Denied Dignity

The ICRC said today, in an information pamphlet, that “The dignity of the Palestinians is being trampled underfoot day after day, both in the West Bank and in Gaza. Israel’s harsh security measures come at an enormous humanitarian cost, leaving those living under occupation with just enough to survive, but not enough to live normal and dignified lives”.

“Israel has the right to protect its own civilian population. However, there should always be a sound balance between Israel’s security concerns and the protection of the rights and liberties of the Palestinians living under occupation. So far, the balance between the Israeli legitimate security concerns and the right of the Palestinian people to live a normal life has not been struck”.

ICRC photo - A. Gutman - Dignity Denied

The 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip continue to pay for conflict and economic containment with their health and livelihoods. Cutting power and fuel further compounds their hardship and is contrary to fundamental humanitarian principles.

In the West Bank, the establishment of Israeli settlements affects every aspect of Palestinians’ lives and leads to the loss of much land and income, together with recurrent violence by settlers. Exhausting movement restrictions hinder access to work and have led to unprecedented levels of unemployment and poverty”…
The ICRC information pamphlet, Dignity Denied, can be seen here.

In a separate press release announcing the publication of this pamphlet, the ICRC said that “Ahead of the conference of major donors due to take place early next week in Paris, the ICRC therefore appeals for immediate political steps to be taken to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Moreover, it calls on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law, to ease restrictions on movement in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and to lift the retaliatory measures that are paralysing life in Gaza. The ICRC also calls on the Palestinian factions to stop targeting civilian areas and endangering the lives of civilians“.