Ibrahim Hewitt, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) 5/24/2013
Israel was established as part of a cynical process of neo-imperialism during and after the First World War.
In the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the Israelis have the most compliant of "partners for peace" ready and willing to make huge concessions and yet illegal settlements continue to grow; human rights violations continue apace; and 65 years of occupation and oppression look set to become endless. This tells us all we really need to know about the mindset of Israel and its leaders, and "right or wrong" supporters: they are not interested in peace in any form, and certainly not a peace in which justice is also given to the victims of Israeli aggression over the past half-a-century and more.
Visiting Interpal's projects in Jordan this week has, as usual, been an eye-opener. No matter how bad you think the situation is, close inspection on the ground reveals it to be worse. Just as in Lebanon, which I visited a month ago, landlords are exploiting refugees - Palestinian and Syrian - at their most vulnerable, charging exorbitant rents for little more than converted animal stores. Trying to imagine the mental turmoil this must cause to someone who has already had to leave their homes with little more than what they can carry is impossible; we can only guess what it must be like, and will probably be far from the reality. Now multiply that by many thousands, indeed millions, and we are faced with a humanitarian catastrophe playing out under our noses.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague and other foreign ministers were also in Amman this week for a meeting of the "Friends of Syria"; little will result from the get-together, no matter how well-intentioned (let's give them the benefit of the doubt) for the simple reason that in international relations right and wrong play second-fiddle to "interests". If it was in America's interests for the war in Syria to be stopped, one way or the other, it would be stopped. The same is true about the incredibly asymmetric conflict in the Holy Land.... more.. e-mail Time for ‘Kerry Peace Plan’
George S. Hishmeh, Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN) 5/23/2013
It is anyone’s guess what Secretary of State John Kerry has up his sleeve when he visits the Holy Land for the fourth time this week, among other key stopovers elsewhere in the Middle East. True, his objective is to kick-start peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis, moribund for several years, but what are the chances of success when he has so much on his plate, particularly Syria?
His focus on resurrecting the peace process has triggered some excitement in this strife-torn region, but not surprisingly everywhere. His first success was to get the Arabs to amend their Arab Peace Initiative, much to the disappointment of some Palestinians, which was launched in 2002 by the 22-member League of Arab States and endorsed thereafter by the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remained mum though his chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, welcomed the gesture as “good news”. Even former prime minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying that’s “an opportunity that must be seized [since] it’s a very important development.”
What is more amazing is that Netanyahu has never spelled out his vision for a peace agreement, insisting that his expansionist plans in the West Bank — now accommodating about half a million Israeli colonists — would not stop, even temporarily, while the two parties are pursuing their negotiations. This is why the Palestinians want him to commit himself to a discernible settlement before the talks start. more.. e-mail Prisoners who starved for art honored by Gaza show
Joe Catron, Gaza City, Electronic Intifada 5/21/2013
For former Palestinian detainee Abdelfattah Abu Jahil, prison art is a victory.
“At the beginning, it was really hard,” he said of painting, embroidery and sculpture during his first detention by Israeli forces in 1983. “It wasn’t allowed. We had to keep it hidden from the guards. And we had to smuggle the tools, like beads and threads, to make the art.”
That changed, he said, when a mass hunger strike forced the Israeli Prison Service to let Palestinian detainees keep and use art supplies.
“The greatest achievements of the prisoners’ movement were in 1985,” Abu Jahil said. “We went on hunger strike to force the Israelis to allow us to make art, among other things. I myself went on hunger strike for 79 days.”
Their success allowed art by detainees to flourish, he explained. “After the [Israeli Prison Service] allowed prisoners to make art, we were able to ask our families to send supplies, or buy them from the small shops in the prisons.”
Today, Abu Jahil, who was finally released from his fourth detention in 2002, continues to make art about detainees and the prisoners’ movement in Gaza.Permanent collection
Drawing a stipend for his work from the Palestinian ministry of prisoners’ affairs, he now produces much of it for a permanent exhibition of prison art hosted by the ministry. more.. e-mail US moves toward full Iran trade embargo
Jim Lobe, Asia Times 5/23/2013
WASHINGTON - The US Congress moved closer on Wednesday to imposing a full trade embargo against Iran and pledged its support to Israel if it felt compelled to attack Tehran's nuclear program in self-defense. The senate voted 99-0 to adopt a resolution that urged President Barack Obama to fully enforce existing economic sanctions against Iran and to "provide diplomatic, military and economic support" to Israel "in its defense of its territory, people and existence".
Washington, it said, should support Israel "in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of congress to authorize the use of military force" if Israel "is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapons program."
The measure also re-affirmed the official policy of the Obama administration that it would take whatever action necessary to "prevent" Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
At the same time, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Republican-led House of Representatives unanimously approved new sanctions legislation that, if passed into law, would blacklist foreign countries or companies that fail to reduce their oil imports from Iran to virtually nil within 180 days.
The same bill would expand the current blacklisting of companies that do business with Iran's financial sector to include those engaged in the country's automotive and mining sectors, as well.
In perhaps its most controversial section, the bill also eliminates President Obama's ability to waive most sanctions for national-interest or national-security reasons. more.. e-mail
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