"The so-called 'Palestinian autonomous areas' are bantustans...restricted entities within the power of the Israeli apartheid system."
   Nelson Mandela
Events: May 12: VTJP Meeting
Why Fatah-Hamas reconciliation might just work this time
Samer Badawi, +972 Magazine 4/23/2014
     Unlike previous efforts, the current Palestinian reconciliation agreement appears to have been cemented from within; and it might just offer a lifeline to Gaza.
     Just as word emerged early Wednesday of an imminent unity accord between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seized upon the news to issue his Palestinian counterpart an ultimatum: Make peace with Hamas, and you can forget about peace with Israel. In lockstep, Netanyahu’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman immediately dubbed any intra-Palestinian reconciliation a veritable “termination of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”
     If that was a bluff, the Palestinians did not flinch. By the end of the day, the rival factions had announced a way forward on deals they had previously inked in Doha and Cairo. There would be elections within six months, and in the interim, a unity government—with Mahmoud Abbas the “prime minister” at its helm.
     Welcome to the post-Oslo world.
     It’s not as if Netanyahu and Co. didn’t see it coming. After all, it was the Israeli government, which controls Palestinians’ access to Gaza from the West Bank, that had waved Fatah delegates through the Erez crossing a day earlier. The rationale must have been simple. One week ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s deadline for a so-called “framework agreement,” the Israeli premier is hell-bent to pin Kerry’s failure on Abbas — even if that means pushing the latter closer to Israel’s sworn enemy, Hamas.
     Abbas, for his part, seems oblivious to the charge. As if anticipating Liberman’s bluff, he again threatened on Tuesday to disband the Palestinian Authority should a framework agreement with the Israelis remain elusive....
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Martin Indyk and the moral crisis at heart of Obama’s peace
Ramzy Baroud, Ma’an News Agency 4/24/2014
     To understand how thoughtless the US latest "peace process" drive has been, one only needs to consider some of the characters involved in this political theater.
     One particular character who stands out as a testament to the inherently futile exercise is Martin Indyk.
     Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel, was selected by Secretary of State John Kerry for the role of Special Envoy for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
     Under normal circumstances, Kerry's selection may appear somewhat rational. Former ambassadors oftentimes possess the needed expertise to navigate challenging political landscapes in countries where they previously served. But these are not normal circumstances, and Indyk is hardly a diplomat in the strict use of the term.
     As the US-sponsored peace process began to falter, Kerry made a peculiar move by dispatching his envoy Indyk to Jerusalem. On Friday, April 18, Indyk took on the task of speaking to both sides separately. International media depicted the event as a last ditch effort to revive the talks, and to help bridge the gap between the PA's Mahmoud Abbas and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu.
     The envoy visit took place a day after intense and difficult talks were reported to have taken place between Israeli and PA negotiators. "No breakthrough was made," an official Palestinian source told AFP of the Thursday meeting.
     It was not that any progress was expected. Both sides are not talking about resolving the conflict per se, but the deliberations were mostly concerned with deferring Kerry's deadline for a "framework agreement," slated for April 29.
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Israel suspends talks, and Washington’s hypocrisy on Hamas
Michael Omer-Man, +972 Magazine 4/24/2014
     By suspending talks over Hamas’s inclusion in the Palestinian leadership, Netanyahu is proving that he was never seeking either a legitimate partner, or a legitimate peace.
     The Israeli government announced that it is suspending peace talks with the Palestinians on Thursday as a response to the reconciliation deal signed a day earlier by Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PLO.
     In choosing to disconnect from the already flailing peacemaking process, Israel is demonstrating that it never intended to make peace with the Palestinians, but rather with the “good Palestinians.”
     Refusing to conduct peace talks with Hamas is one thing, but Netanyahu has decided to boycott Abbas because he had the gall to reconstruct his fractured government – a Palestinian societal and political wound that was one of the biggest obstacles to peace. (Read Noam Sheizaf on why the reconciliation deal is good for peace.)
     Israel and the United States may have given Mahmoud Abbas a mandate to conduct peace negotiations without Hamas, but his mandate from the Palestinian people — at least a democratic one — expired a long time ago.
     President Abbas’ term in office ended over five years ago. The last elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, which Hamas won, took place eight years ago. (Fifty PLC members have seen the inside of Israeli prisons since, many under administrative detention.) The PLO (its Central Committee), too, hasn’t seen a ballot box in 18 years.
     A reconciliation deal with Hamas that ensures new elections would renew Abbas’ mandate to negotiate peace, or revoke it once and for all. Furthermore, Abbas, like Netanyahu, has declared that any peace deal must be put to referendum, which could not take place absent some rapprochement with Hamas....
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Antagonising Iran: A strategic miscalculation?
Seyed Mohammad Marandi, Al Jazeera 4/22/2014
     How the 'crippling sanctions' policy has started to cripple the tormentor.
     Even though it was a major exporter of crude oil and held some of the world's largest natural gas reserves, Iran made a compelling case over half-a-century ago that it needed, almost immediately, to produce an additional 20,000 megawatts of electricity by constructing 23 nuclear power plants. At the same time, Iran's government made the case that the country needed to acquire the capacity to enrich uranium in order to fabricate the reactor fuel for such an ambitious programme.
     Western governments eagerly endorsed these arguments, praising Iran's then Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's ambition to rapidly modernise Iran while overlooking the reality that he was presiding over a ruthless dictatorship and diverting much needed capital to purchase massive amounts of weapons from the US and other Western countries. And so, during the 1960s and 1970s, billions of dollars were invested in establishing an Iranian nuclear programme and training thousands of Iranian nuclear experts in the West - until Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution replaced the monarchy with an Islamic Republic.
     After charging enormous sums of money to build the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear industry in Iran, Western companies pulled out of the country, leaving large numbers of highly qualified experts and scholars wondering about their fate. Iran's new political leaders recognised the importance of an advanced nuclear programme to progress in fields such as medicine, agriculture, industry and energy; attempts were made to find foreign partners to complete the projects, but with little success. Progress in Iran's nuclear development only resumed after Iranians learned to rely on themselves and their own scientists to move the programme forward.
     The US, which had enthusiastically supported Iran's nuclear programme under the Western-backed shah, had now become Tehran's leading antagonist, relentlessly threatening countries to refrain from cooperating with Iran....
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Palestinians celebrate Easter in reclaimed Galilee village
Electronic Intifada: 24 Apr 2014 - Descendants of Iqrit refugees “did not wait for the Israeli authorities’ permission to return to their land.”
Haj Sami Sadeq and the struggle for Al Aqaba
Palestine Monitor: 28 Jan 2013 -   Al Aqaba is a small Palestinian village located in the northern Jordan Valley, home to around 300 residents. Since 1999 Haj Sami Sadeq has been the mayor of this town, facing a constant struggle...
Nearly ten years after store closures, old city of Hebron still suffering
Palestine Monitor: 28 Jan 2013 -   This report is the second in a new Palestine Monitor series on life in the Old City of Hebron (known in Arabic as Khalil). The Palestine Monitor will publish one report a week on...
Colombia Professor Victorious in His Quest for Academic Freedom – Video
Palestine Chronicle: 23 Apr 2014 - After Iymen Chehade’s class at Columbia College Chicago was canceled, he realized that his academic freedom had been violated and skillfully protested until his class was reinstated. In this exclusive KAKE interview, Chehade discusses the importance of recognizing and fighting for academic freedom in schools across the globe. (Interviewer: Kellen Winters @_ITSKELS @_KAKEME – Filmed and edited by @AndrewZeiter & @FragDfilms.)
UN Report on Palestine: Military Occupation, Apartheid, and Torture
Palestine Chronicle: 23 Apr 2014 - By Ludwig Watzal The outgoing Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Richard A. Falk, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution 5/1 his last report on the dire conditions under which the Palestinian people have to live.  Falk’s final presentation addresses Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the wall in the eyes of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, and considers Israel’s policies and practices in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in light of the prohibition on segregation and apartheid. It also addresses concern in relation to the deterioration of the human rights situation of Palestinians living under the Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip. The report focuses on the wall and the 2004 Advisory Opinion; Israeli colonies and the fragmentation of occupied Palestine, the besieged Gaza Strip, the Question of apartheid and segregation,...
Survival Is the Saudi Key Word
Palestine Chronicle: 22 Apr 2014 - By Nicola Nasser Survival is the key word to understand the Saudi dynasty’s latest external and internal policies. These are designed to pre-empt change but paradoxically they are creating more enemies in a changing world order marked by turbulent regional geopolitics and growing internal demands for change. The seventy-year old strategic oil for security US-Saudi alliance seemed about to crack on its 69th anniversary ahead of the summit meeting of US President Barak Obama and king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in March. With the US now committed to pivoting east and possibly on track to become an oil exporter by 2017, American and Saudi policies are no longer identical. Former US President George W. Bush’s democracy campaign, which Saudi opposed, alerted its rulers to be on guard. The Arab popular protests since 2011 pushed them into leading a regional defensive counterrevolution and ever since the gap in bilateral relations has...
The Signing of the Palestinian Spring
Palestine Chronicle: 22 Apr 2014 - By Vacy Vlazna At the low point of the farcical ‘peace’ process stalemate, President Mahmoud Abbas signed, on Tuesday 1st April 2014, letters of accession to 15 multilateral treaties and conventions, (a right gained following Palestine’s upgrade to Observer State status by the UN General Assembly back in November 2012) in defiance of Israel’s refusal to release 30 pre-Oslo prisoners on 29 March 2014. Instead, once ratified, Palestinians should look forward to a mass release of political prisoners detained by the Palestinian Authority (PA) headed by the unelected Mahmoud Abbas. Al Haq estimates that there are 60 political prisoners in PA detention centres where torture , such as suffered by Osamah Nayef al-Shawamreh, is rampant. Among the conventions are The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which will have liberating implications for Palestinians living...
Boston and Baghdad
Palestine Chronicle: 22 Apr 2014 - By Ralph Nader Greater Boston and its citizens are the focus of media attention in recognition of the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings that took three innocent lives and injured over 264 people, some of them severely. City leaders praised the heroism of the first responders and the deepened community spirit (“Boston Strong”). Addressing 2,500 invited Bostonians, including the bereaved families, Vice President Biden said “You have become the face of America’s resolve, not unlike what happened in 9/11…for the whole world to see. People know all about you. They know your pride, they know your courage, they know your resolve, they know who you are.” There followed a procession down Boylston Street with bagpipers playing. Meanwhile six thousand miles away in Iraq, there are terror bombings of innocent civilians almost every day. A sample: On April 9, 2014, the New York Times reported that “The Iraqi capital,...
The Idea of Israel – Book Review
Palestine Chronicle: 22 Apr 2014 - Reviewed by Jim Miles (The Idea of Israel – A History of Power and Knowledge. Ilan Pappe. Verso/New Left Books, London, 2014.) This is a powerfully written unsettling work that relates the story of Israel from the perspective of how ideas are changed and manipulated for the benefit of the state. Unfortunately the majority of citizens of most countries are susceptible to the ideation/ideology of the mainstream of political thought as it is supported by the mainstream press. In the case of Israel, image and ideation, its narrative and ideology, are of paramount importance for the survival of the state beyond its military strength and relatively successful integration into the globalized corporate governed world. For a brief decade, generally within the 1990s, the Israeli narrative, its foundational ideas, were challenged by a small group of academics known as the new historians. In a factual sense they brought forward many details...

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