What is the Palestinian leadership / Palestinian Authority going to tell Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Barak Ravid, who reports for Haaretz, Tweeted late on 4 April: “I obtained a draft of the letter that Palestinian President Abbas is planning to give PM Netanyahu next week … In the letter Abbas will accuse the Netanyahu government of undermining Palestinian Authority” – article posted here“…

Then, Ravid sent out Tweets with scans of the entire draft letter, in the original Arabic:
Here is page number 1 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here
Here is page number 2 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here
Here is page number 3 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here
Here is page number 4 of the draft letter Abbas will send Netanyahu here.

There has been a lot of speculation about this letter — Abbas would announce his resignation, Abbas would disband the entire Palestinian Authority…

The same day, Israeli former Minister of Justice Yossi Beilin, formerly of Meretz and previously the Labour Party, wrote a piece, entitled “Dear Abu Mazen, End This Farce”, which was published on the Foreign Policy website, here, urging Abbas to disband the PA, saying:

    “I admit that I never believed the moment would come when I would have to write these words. I am doing so because U.S. President Barack Obama has convinced you not to announce, at this point in time, the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority’s institutions and the ‘return of the keys’ of authority for the Palestinian territories to Israel. Because there have never been serious negotiations with the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the last three years, and because you did not want to perpetuate the myth that a meaningful dialogue existed, you have been sorely tempted to declare the death of the ‘peace process’ — but the American president urged you to maintain the status quo. It is a mistake to agree to Obama’s request, and you can rectify this.

    Continue reading What is the Palestinian leadership / Palestinian Authority going to tell Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Michael Sfard + Yesh Din lose Supreme court case opposing Israeli stone quarries in the West Bank

Michael Sfard, a Tel Aviv-based Israeli lawyer who represents Palestinians aggrieved by the Israeli government and its policies, has been forcing Israeli clarification of its policies.

Even when he loses a case, as happened on Monday in a ruling handed down by Israel’s Supreme Court on Israeli stone quarries operating in the West Bank [which most of the world regards as occupied Palestinian territory], he manages to get incremental new clarification of some of Israel’s heaviest and most obscure policies

In the Supreme Court ruling handed down yesterday, Michael Sfard was representing the Israeli non-governmental human rights organization Yesh Din [Volunteers for Human Rights].

An article in Haaretz today by Zafrir Rinat, entitled High Court says Israel can take advantage of West Bank resources, is subtitled: Court adopts state position. The Haaretz story explained that Yesh Din “argued that the 10 Israeli-owned quarries in the West Bank violate international law, which states that an occupier may not exploit an occupied territory’s natural resources for its own economic benefit; it may use such resources only for the benefit of the occupied people or for military purposes”.

According to Haaretz, the Supreme Court ruling, written by Judge Dorit Beinisch, argued “it is necessary to take account of the fact that the West Bank has been under a prolonged and continuing occupation, so the territory’s economic development cannot be put on ice until the occupation ends. The quarries, she noted, supply jobs and training to a non-negligible number of Palestinians; some of their yield is sold to the Palestinians; and the royalties the quarry owners pay the state – almost NIS 30 million a year – are used by the Civil Administration in the territories to fund projects that benefit the Palestinian population. ‘In this situation, it’s hard to accept the petitioner’s unequivocal assertion that the quarries’ operation does nothing to advance the [Palestinian] region, especially in light of the Israeli and Palestinian sides’ mutual economic interests and the prolonged duration’ of Israel’s presence in the West Bank, she concluded”.

By these revelations, it appears that the Israeli owners of the stone quarries pay royalties on their production and sale of Palestinian stones to the Israeli military [Civil Administration] in order to maintain the military occupation of the West Bank.

Haaretz reported the Beinisch examined “what international law has to say, and particularly Article 55 of the Fourth Hague Convention, on which the petition was based. That article requires the occupying power to ‘safeguard the capital’ of the occupied party’s natural resources and ‘administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct’, meaning the rules governing fair usage. But Beinisch accepted the state’s position that Israel’s use of the quarries is limited and does not amount to destroying their ‘capital’, and hence does not violate international law. This position is bolstered, she said, by the state’s decision not to permit any new quarries to open” [see below].

Continue reading Michael Sfard + Yesh Din lose Supreme court case opposing Israeli stone quarries in the West Bank

Punishment: PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad says he can't pay December salaries

A report in YNet tonight tells us that Palestinian Authority [PA] Salaam Fayyad said today that he is unable to pay December salaries in the coming week because of Israel’s withholding of the VAT + Customs taxes it collects for the PA under the 1994 Paris Protocol [part of the Oslo Accords].

YNet doesn’t say exactly where Fayyad made these remarks, but it reported that Fayyad said that “suspension of the tax transfers ‘has both an immediate impact on the lives of all employees and their dependents, some 1 million people … (and) has a devastating indirect impact throughout the whole economy’.”

The same YNet report says that an Israeli official [unnamed] “said Sunday that Israel suspended the transfers temporarily to express its concern over the conduct of Abbas and his government, mainly his quest for recognition of Palestine”.

[n.b. – This refers mainly to the “UN bid” for full membership in the United Nations; Israel has already withheld one month of tax transfers in November because of the 31 October vote in UNESCO to admit the State of Palestine as a full member of the Paris-based agency…]

The YNet article adds that “The Israeli official said Israeli might make decision to withhold the money permanent if Abbas sets up a unity government with Hamas, the Islamic terrorist group that controls Gaza. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue with reporters”.
This YNet article can be read in full here.

My unanswered questions – by Said Ghazali

At the conference on Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations – from Camp David to the present day, held at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem last Tuesday, my two questions were left unanswered. Anybody could guess what they were?

Of course not, has anybody got possessed by any supernatural intellect power to read what’s in my mind? But those former Palestinian and Israeli officials who attended the conference read what’s in my mind.

They weren’t supernatural aliens.

One of them, the moderator tried to prevent me from asking questions. When he failed and I asked my questions, the speakers whose eight eyes were in direct contact with my eyes didn’t answer them. It is important to note that I’m not a party liner. I came to listen to their views to understand better why the Palestinian-Israeli conflict revolves in the orbit of failures.

The failure is the opposite of success.

Continue reading My unanswered questions – by Said Ghazali

Why remember PLO decisions of 1993, but not those of 1988?

Why do Palestinian negotiators speak of 1993 exchange of recognition between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), but forget about the PLO’s declarations in 1988?

(1) Yasser Arafat read out, at meeting of the PLO’s Palestine National Council (PNC) in Algiers in November 1988 [almost one year into the first Palestinian Intifada], the PALESTINIAN DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, which says that the 1947 UNGA partition Resolution 181 (endorsing Jewish + Arab states) still provides the legal basis for the right of Palestinian Arab people to national sovereignty and independence — despite historical injustice.

By this, the PLO accepted the State of Israel, and recognized it as a Jewish State.  Now, in 2010, the Palestinians are being squeezed to do the same thing again — but they are reacting with shock and horror, and adamantly refusing.

One main question now  is: if the Palestinians were to repeat, graciously, their earlier decision, would the reaction be a display of Jewish morality — or would it be, instead, Jewish triumphalism and victor’s justice?

(2) In the same meeting of the PLO’s PNC in Algiers in November 1988,  a POLITICAL DECLARATION was adopted stating that Israel should withdraw from all the Palestinian + Arab territories occupied in 1967 (including Arab Jerusalem).

By  claiming the territory occupied in 1967, the PLO  and the Palestinian leadership effectively gave up title to the land between the lines of the 1947 partition resolution and the 1949-1950 Armistice Lines agreed between Israel and its neighbors in UN-sponsored negotiations (more or less the same thing as the 1967 Green Line which Israel crossed in the Six Day War).

Netanyahu tape

The man who is now, for a second time, Israel’s Prime Minister — Benyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu — went to visit an Israeli settler family in 2001, some two years after his defeat to Ehud Barak [the man who is now Defense Minister, and who is therefore the ruler of the West Bank, making him co-regent, with Netanyahu, of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean].

Last Friday night, for the first time, Israel’s Channel 10 television broadcast a homemade video made of this visit — it shows the man who is now Prime Minister, again, discussing the Oslo Accords, and how he’s arranged everything according to his vision of the way things should be. In the videotaped visit, Netanyahu bragged that he had stopped the Oslo agreement.

Continue reading Netanyahu tape

Investigation: Gaza's maritime space

As we have mentioned on this website before, Palestinians have a recognized maritime space in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

In a map attached to the Oslo Accords in 1994 and 1995, Gaza’s maritime space is recognized by an agreement with Israel, which was witnessed (is this a guarantee?) by the United States, Russia, and Egypt.

Gaza’s maritime space extends 20 miles off Gaza’s coastline, straight out into the Mediterranean Sea.

This is where Israel has imposed a formal declared naval blockade.

Continue reading Investigation: Gaza's maritime space

Gaza's Maritime Space – the Olso Map

A beautiful clean clear version of the Oslo Accords map of Gaza’s maritime space — where Israel has declared a formal naval blockade that went into effect on 3 January 2009, as the IDF began its ground offensive during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, from the U.S. State Department archives, here:

Many thanks, again, to Aletheia Kallos for kindly posting this.

Where the last Free Gaza expedition was probably intercepted by Israeli Navy in June 2009

In late June 2009, the last Free Gaza expedition, composed of only one ship, the Spirit, was intercepted by the Israeli Navy at the point shown on the graphic below, very kindly and obligingly prepared by Aletheia Kallos: 

Site where Free Gaza ship, the Spirit, was intercepted by Israeli Navy in late June 2009
Site where Free Gaza ship, the Spirit, was intercepted in late June 2009 - graphic map by Aletheia Kallos


[A note of caution from AK:  “the geodetic datums for the several pushpin positions are unknown & tho they were plotted with as much care & precision as possible they are still not necessarily in exact agreement with the wgs84 datum used by google earth so a slight datum shift among the depicted features is possible..] 

To put this into political context, here is the map of Gaza’s maritime space as delineated in the Oslo Accords, from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, here


[The little hand-written note, in Arabic, above the late Yasser Arafat’s name indicates that there is a separate “letter” related to this matter...] 

Late last June, the Free Gaza’s Spirit was interdicted by the Israeli Navy at the point indicated on the first graphic map above, boarded, directed to Ashdod port, and expedition members detained and deported.  Most of it humanitarian cargo was then forwarded to Gaza through Israeli-controlled land  crossings (the blood products were reportedly spoiled for lack of refrigeration)… 

This interdiction happened, it appears (from coordinates published by the Free Gaza movement) about one mile inside area L, which is Gaza’s designated maritime space for fishing and economic activities [see the second graphic map above].  This maritime space extends from the coastline straight out 20 miles directly out to sea.  This delimitation was agreed between Israel and the Palestine  Liberation Organization (PLO) in the Oslo Accords — and witnessed by the United States and Russia. 

Israel’s formally-declared naval blockade of Gaza was announced on 3-4 January 2009,  just as the Israeli ground operation in Gaza began during Operation Cast Lead (27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009) — and it was not extinguished after the two unilateral cease-fires (Israel’s and Hamas’) went into effect at the end of that massive military operation.  

Though the formal official notification of the blockade has not yet turned up, Israeli statements indicate that it corresponds exactly to Gaza’s maritime space (fishing and economic activity zone) as agreed in the Oslo Accords… 

I did find this week, here, and posted something about this earlier on my blog, here, what appears to be a new (2009) Israeli claim to a 3-mile slice of Gaza’s territorial water, which is very surprising.  It would mean, of course, that Israel’s denials it is still occupying Gaza are false and misleading.  It would also mean that there can hardly be any argument that Israel has full responsibility for the well-being of the 1.5 million souls trapped there.

"We didn't know he was a journalist" + "There was no security concern" — so why detention pending deporation?

This story gets better and better [do I have to say, “irony alert“?].

“There was no security concern”, an Israeli official said about the detention since Tuesday in difficult and uncertain conditions of an American journalist who is awaiting a deportation hearing on Sunday — and the deportation that was carried out already of his girlfriend.

So, these actions must be a form of disciplinary measure…

Continue reading "We didn't know he was a journalist" + "There was no security concern" — so why detention pending deporation?