Slouching towards September
Graham Usher, Al-Ahram Weekly 7/21/2011
The Palestinian Authority's plan to seek membership as a state at the United Nations in September is setting up a showdown with Washington few of its leaders want.
On 14 July the Arab League endorsed the West Bank Palestinian Authority's (PA) plan to seek full membership as a state "on the 1967 lines" at the United Nations in September, risking a near certain United States veto and despite dwindling enthusiasm from several key European Union states.
Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi said the League would "take all necessary measures and rally the needed support of all world countries, starting with the Security Council, to recognise the state of Palestine". The League would also press the UN Security Council and General Assembly to support "full membership of a Palestinian state".
It's not clear when the bid will be submitted, or by whom. Initially it was thought the Arab group at the UN would submit a resolution on the PA's part. But on 16 July Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) negotiator Saeb Ereikat said PA President Mahmoud Abbas would "personally" present the resolution "to avoid undermining the PLO's position as sole representative of the Palestinian people". Abbas is president of the PLO's executive committee.
This is not the only confusion. Some in the PA leadership -- like Ereikat -- believe the Palestinians should go for full UN membership at the Security Council, knowingly incur an American veto but then as a fallback request an upgrade of the PLO's status at the UN General Assembly from "observer" to "non-member observer state", a change that would change nothing except nomenclature. more.. e-mail
Can water end the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Arwa Aburawa, Al Jazeera 7/29/2011
Could solving the water crisis in Israel and Palestine also help resolve the entrenched occupation and conflict?
Around three weeks ago on a late Tuesday morning, Israeli soldiers armed with a truck and a digger entered the Palestinian village of Amniyr and destroyed nine water tanks. One week later, Israeli forces demolished water wells and water pumps in the villages of Al-Nasaryah, Al-Akrabanyah and Beit Hassan in the Jordan Valley. In Bethlehem, a severe water shortage have led to riots in refugee camps and forced hoteliers to pay over the odds for water just to stop tourists from leaving.
Palestinians insist that the Israeli occupation means that they are consistently denied their water rights which is why they have to live on 50 litres of water a day while Israeli settlers enjoy the luxury of 280 litres. Clearly, water is at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but commentators are now insisting that shared water problems could help motivate joint action and better co-operation between both sides, which could in turn help end the conflict.
"It's a shame that water is being used as a form of collective punishment when it could be used to build trust and to help each side recognise that the other is a human being with water rights," says Nader Al-Khateeb, the Palestinian director of the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME).
"We should be using water as a tool for peace and to bridge the gap of confidence in the region - not to create a water crisis," he adds. As part of his work with FoEME - which also operates in Israel and Jordan - Al-Khateeb says he has already witnessed the success of co-operative water projects. Over the past ten years, the FoEME "Good Water Neighbors" initiative has brought together 29 cross-border communities to encourage them to work together to resolve shared water problems. more.. e-mail
Arab Awakening and the Western Media
Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency 7/28/2011
When President Ali Abdullah Saleh tried desperately to quell Yemen’s popular uprising, he appealed to tribalism, customs and traditions. All his efforts evidently failed, and the revolution continued unabated.
When Saleh denounced women for joining men in demonstrations in Sana’a – playing on cultural sensitivities and a very selective interpretation of religion - the response was even more poignant. Thousands of women took to the streets, denouncing Saleh’s regime and calling for its ouster.
The immediate popular response was notable for its level of organization and decisiveness. It was also interesting because most of the women protesting did so while wearing the Niqab. Fully covered Yemeni women have continued to inspire - if not fuel - the revolution which started in February. Without their active participation and resilience in the face of violent attempts to quash the uprising, one wonders if Yemen could have held on for so long.
The role of Yemeni women in the revolution should significantly challenge any ideas of Arab women that are based simply on statistical or superficial criteria. In 2010, the Freedom House report on women in the Middle East had already determined that Yemen made no significant progress on women’s rights in the preceding five years. Most international reports examining the standing of women in Yemen – whether in education, health or any other field – have consistently been bleak. Yet, in revolutionary Yemen, the discounted women were more than equal to their male peers when it came to articulating their demands for freedom, democracy and equality.
Yemeni women have not simply broken the stereotype regarding what truly ‘radical’ women in a traditional society should be. They have also challenged all sorts of academic takes on the subject.... more.. e-mail
Articles Archives - July 2011
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