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Articles Archives - January 2011
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Al-Jazeera documents: what’s next?
Khalid Amayreh, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) 1/24/2011
      Palestinian Authority (PA) officials have lashed out at the Al-Jazeera pan-Arab network for disclosing previously secret documents showing that PA negotiators had agreed to compromise over some cardinal issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict; these include the status of Jerusalem and the right of return for millions of refugees, uprooted from their homes when and since Israel was created in 1948.
     In an impromptu press conference held in Ramallah on 24 January, Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary-General of the PLO, accused the Qatar-based network of waging a relentless war on the PA and besmirching its leadership's image for the benefit of Israel and the enemies of the Palestinian struggle. He said Al-Jazeera was fabricating evidence to discredit PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his aides, adding that this campaign wouldn't have been launched without the personal approval of the Qatari Amir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
     However, a close and objective examination of the documents shows that Al-Jazeera didn't exceed its bounds and that regardless of how the network acquired the leaked documents, elements of concoction, fabrication and doctoring didn't play any role in the process. Unfortunately, PA officials and negotiators, including chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, didn't stick to the facts when trying to defend the negotiators' behaviour. Instead, they resorted to name -calling, abusive language, unfounded accusations and brash mendacity. It is not uncommon for PA apologists and spokespersons to resort to diversionary tactics and red herrings, even unnecessary jokes, to evade the hard issues at hand. In this case, the examination of the issue does show that the PA was willing to abandon and betray inalienable Palestinian rights.
     The issue of Jerusalem stands out among other issues over which the PA was obviously willing to compromise....
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Dayton’s mission: A reader’s guide
Mark Perry, AlJazeera 1/25/2011
      Mark Perry explains what The Palestine Papers reveal about Gen. Keith Dayton's training mission in the West Bank.
     The Palestine Papers provide unprecedented access into the internal workings of the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian negotiating process. But the leaked documents and meetings also touch on other key issues surrounding U.S. intervention in the conflict – including dozens of documents on Palestinian security issues. At the heart of these is the work of the Office of the U.S. Security Coordinator (USSC), what many refer to as “The Dayton Mission,” – a designation derived from the USSC’s chief, Lt. General Keith Dayton, who retired last October. Among other things they confirm – from Dayton’s own mouth – that Palestinian Authority forces supported by the United States engaged in torture.
     The establishment of the USSC – its mandate and purpose -- is fraught with misunderstandings. The first is that U.S. military officers are training Palestinian security personnel. That’s not true. Palestinian security personnel were initially trained by American contractors (in this case, Dyncorp) – the same kind of contractors who have given the U.S such problems in Iraq. Later, these private contractors were joined by trainers provided by the Jordanian Public Security Directorate. While the facilities for the training (located outside of Amman) are provided by the United States, the Palestinian trainees were (and are) equipped by the Egyptians.
     While the now-retired Dayton was a senior three-star military officer (he was preceded by General William Ward and has been succeeded General Michael Moeller), he never reported through a military chain of command. Rather, he reported directly to the Secretary of State – first to Condoleezza Rice, under the Bush administration and, later, to Hillary Clinton, under President Barack Obama.
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Demanding a demilitarized state
Gregg Carlstrom, AlJazeera 1/25/2011
      Israeli negotiators demanded to keep Israeli troops in the West Bank and to maintain control of Palestinian airspace.
     In a striking exchange from May 2008, Tzipi Livni, the then-Israeli foreign minister, tells Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat that he will have to accept an Israeli military presence in the West Bank. His objection is met with one of Livni’s more memorable dismissals:
     Erekat: Do I have a choice of who to place on my territory?
     Livni: No.
     Erekat: I have a conceptual framework – short of your jet fighters in my sky and your army on my territory, can I choose where I secure external defence?
     Livni: No. In order to create your state you have to agree in advance with Israel – you choose not to have the right of choice afterwards. These are the basic pillars.
     Israeli politicians have hardly been shy about demanding a demilitarised Palestinian state. “We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarised,” Binyamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister, said in his foreign policy address at Bar-Ilan University in June 2009.
     The Palestine Papers reveal how expansive that demand was: Israeli negotiators demanded to keep Israeli troops in the West Bank, to maintain control of Palestinian airspace, and to dictate exactly what weapons could and could not be purchased by the Palestinian security forces.
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This seemingly endless and ugly game of the peace process is now finally over
Karma Nabulsi, The Guardian, Palestine Think Tank 1/24/2011
      The peace process is a sham. Palestinians must reject their officials and rebuild their movement.
     It's over. Given the shocking nature, extent and detail of these ghastly revelations from behind the closed doors of the Middle East peace process, the seemingly endless and ugly game is now, finally, over. Not one of the villains on the Palestinian side can survive it. With any luck the sheer horror of this account of how the US and Britain covertly facilitated and even implemented Israeli military expansion – while creating an oligarchy to manage it – might overcome the entrenched interests and venality that have kept the peace process going. A small group of men who have polluted the Palestinian public sphere with their private activities are now exposed.
     For us Palestinians, these detailed accounts of the secretly negotiated surrender of every one of our core rights under international law (of return for millions of Palestinian refugees, on annexing Arab Jerusalem, on settlements) are not a surprise. It is something that we all knew – in spite of official protests to the contrary – because we feel their destructive effects every day. The same is true of the outrageous role of the US and Britain in creating a security bantustan, and the ruin of our civic and political space. We already knew, because we feel its fatal effects.
     For the overwhelming majority of Palestinians, official Palestinian policy over these past decades has been the antithesis of a legitimate, or representative, or even coherent strategy to obtain our long-denied freedom. But this sober appreciation of our current state of affairs, accompanied by the mass protests and civil society campaigns by Palestinian citizens, has been insufficient, until now, to rid us of it.
     The release into the public domain of these documents is such a landmark because it destroys the final traces of credibility of the peace process. Everything to do with it relied upon a single axiom: that each new initiative or set of negotiations with the Israelis, every policy or programme (even the creation of undemocratic institutions under military occupation), could be presented as carried out in good faith under harsh conditions: necessary for peace, and in the service of our national cause. Officials from all sides played a double game vis-à-vis the Palestinians. It is now on record that they have betrayed, lied and cheated us of basic rights, while simultaneously claiming they deserved the trust of the Palestinian people. -- See also: Source
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Mahmoud Darwish’s 'Journal of an Ordinary Grief'
Andre Naffis-Sahely, Words Without Borders 1/26/2011
      Mahmoud Darwish’s “Journal of an Ordinary Grief”, Translated from the Arabic by Ibrahim Muhawi, Archipelago Books, 2010
     Every artist, particularly if they happen to be a good one, is in a sense posthumous; and as soon as their tongue is safely lifeless, every tribe lays claim to what part of their work suits their particular purposes; “he or she” they say, “belonged to all of us.” The more I read of Darwish, who was quite possibly the modern apotheosis of the Arabic language, the more I consider how appalled he might have been of the public spectacle engendered by his death: the indecisions as to where he would be buried, the cortège of politicians filing past his coffin, the plans for a memorial, the days of mourning; who wouldn't be mortified? To most of those who knew him, Darwish was humble, shy— but alert to the duplicity of responses he inspired in his readers:
     "You have to be crafty with formulation in order to safeguard your existence. For this reason you prefer poetry to crossing rivers. Then critics living in ease will accuse you of being a traitor to the national cause. And your enemies will accuse you of anti-Semitism."
     Penned during Darwish's house arrest in Haifa prior to his exile from Israel in 1971, Journal of an Ordinary Grief is the first of his prose works to attempt a portrait of the artist as first and foremost a poet, and in the second place as a Palestinian. What is a Palestinian without a country, or even a physical memory of that country? Many of the lines in the Journal struggle with this paucity of means. As he puts it in “The Homeland,” the second chapter in the book: “the map does not constitute an answer, because it is very much like an abstract painting. And your grandfather's grave is not the answer because a small forest can make it disappear.”....
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Documents reveal PA-Israel collaboration to target resistance
Electronic Intifada: 26 Jan 2011 - Details on the growing security cooperation between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, the United States and the United Kingdom were revealed yesterday, the third day of Al Jazeera network's release of more than 1,600 internal documents and secret correspondence from the last decade of negotiations between the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority and the United States.more

Book review: From mourning to mobilization
Electronic Intifada: 26 Jan 2011 - Ronit Lentin is an Israeli-born academic and novelist now based in Ireland, where she teaches sociology at Trinity College, Dublin. She describes her latest book, Co-memory and Melancholia: Israelis Memorialising the Palestinian Nakba , as "a reflection on the contested relations between commemoration and appropriation from the standpoint of a member of the perpetrators' collectivity, whose politics align her with the colonized."more

Mother of Bilin martyrs: we will not be stopped
Electronic Intifada: 26 Jan 2011 - Jawaher was not the only member of the Abu Rahmah family whose life was taken by Israeli military violence. In April 2009, during a similar protest against the wall, an Israeli soldier fired a tear gas canister directly at Bassem Abu Rahmah, Jawaher's brother, which hit him in the chest and killed him. The Electronic Intifada contributor Alex Kane interviews Soubhiya Abu Rahmah, the mother of Bassem and Jawaher, in Bilin.more

Palestinian Negotiators Must Tell All
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Jan 2011 - By George S. Hishmeh – Washington, D.C. The Arab peoples, almost anywhere from 'the Atlantic to the Gulf,' are nowadays seething with anger more than at anytime in recent decades, partly because of their poor economic conditions and rising unemployment as well as the absence of good governance. But equally shattering has been the feeling that their autocratic rulers are not responsive to their political goals and only serve as instruments in the hands of the big powers, especially the United States which has been a firm ally of Israel, the usurper of the Palestinian homeland. This has been clearly illustrated after the pace-setting Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia forced the country’s president and his family to flee to Saudi Arabia, and served as a torch for many in the region, especially Algeria, Egypt, and Yemen, where some demonstrators have been killed. The ongoing turmoil reported in the Sudan, Iraq and...more

Palestinians: Don't Get Mad, Get Even
Palestine Chronicle: 26 Jan 2011 - By Stuart Littlewood – London See this embarrassment as your big chance - a God-sent opportunity to sweep away the shameful Palestinian Authority. Then make a fresh start. Bypass Israel and its twisted backers and deal direct with those responsible, the United Nations. Don't think that you are the only ones with traitors in your midst. We too have our quislings. They have given away our sovereignty to the EU and Brussels, sold off our national assets to foreign corporates and shackled us to the US-Israel 'axis of greed'. They have even abused the trust and loyalty of our troops by committing them to illegal wars that have nothing to do with defence of the realm and everything to do with advancing the crazed ambition of foreign "allies" to get their dirty mitts on other people's resources. Following the latest revelations, courtesy of Aljazeera, about the antics of PA negotiators...more

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