A week in the life of Palestinians and Israelis via Mondoweiss (continued) part 4

Weekly report on Israeli human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory (8-14 December)
PCHR-Gaza 15 Dec — Israeli forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt  A Palestinian boy was killed at Za‘tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, and another civilian was killed in occupied Jerusalem.
An activist was wounded in al-Eisawiya village, north of Jerusalem. Israeli forces conducted 56 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and 10 ones in occupied Jerusalem. 76 civilians, including 13 children and a journalist, were arrested. Twenty-three of them, including 11 children and the journalist, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Birzeit University was raided and belongings of student unions were confiscated. Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip Sea. Israeli forces continued their efforts to create Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem. 2 families were obliged to self-demolish parts of a 3-storey building in Silwan village, south of the city. A residential barrack, a storage barrack and a commercial facility were demolished in Sour Baher under the pretext they were close to the annexation wall. 3 NGOs were raided; a musical activity in one of them was banned and PC sets were confiscated from another. Settlement activities continued in the West Bank. Settlers cut off 190 olive trees in Termis’ya village, northeast of Ramallah. [details follow of these and other events]

9 Palestinian suspects involved in killing of Palestinian police turn themselves in
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 16 Dec – The main suspects responsible for the August shooting in Nablus that left two Palestinian security officers killed and four others injured after clashes broke out in the Old City between Palestinian forces and armed locals turned themselves in to Palestinian security over Thursday and Friday.  Nablus mayor Akram Rjoub told Ma‘an on Friday that six of the suspects had turned themselves in at the offices in Ramallah, identified as Imad ad-Din Ahmad Ezz Halawa, Moayad Fathi Sabi Estita, Saif ad-Din Ahmad Ezz Halawa, Jamal Ahmad Ezz Halawa, Muhammad Tahsein Abdulmajeed al-Ghanim, and Ihab Nabeel Khaled, while three others turned themselves in at the headquarters in Nablus, according to Rjoub. Rjoub said that the suspects were taken to Ramallah for interrogations and to undergo security procedures, adding that no deals or agreements had been struck with the nine suspects. However, he told Ma‘an that all security procedures would be carried out in accordance with the law and declared the case officially closed. The slain security officers were identified at the time of the incident as Shibli Ibrahim Abed Bani Shamseh, 27, from the village of Beita, and Mahmoud Tarayra from Bani Naim. The two who survived their injuries were identified as Officer Naji Ahmad al-Titi, who was shot in the arm, and officer Iyad Omar Zaghloul, who was shot in the leg.Two Palestinian civilians were also killed during the incident after Palestinian forces raided the Old City the night following the clashes….

Opinion: The Palestinian leadership that doesn’t represent us / Diana Buttu
Al Jazeera 12 Dec — Last week’s Palestinian Fatah conference ended with disappointingly predictable results. Of the 18 members of the Executive Committee, the governing body of Fatah, once again 17 are men, and only one person is in his 40s – he is considered to be part of the “youth” of the movement. The average age of the Executive Committee is pushing past 65 and is advancing with each conference, as no new members join its ranks. The results were not the only problems with the elections – the process was flawed from the outset. With Mahmoud Abbas desperate to cling to and consolidate power despite being in his 80s, and working to quash any opposition to his ineffective rule, he actively set out to undermine Fatah by not allowing dissenting members to attend the conference, disqualifying members and appointing those who would support his oppressive rule. And so, unsurprisingly, Abbas was once again elected head of Fatah and, once again, the top 12 members of the Executive Committee are the same members (in the exact order) of the Executive Committee that preceded it. But that is not where the disappointment rests, for other political parties around the world have similarly chosen leaders out of touch with their constituents, only to be faced with the wrath of the electorate. And herein lies the problem: Abbas, in his quest to consolidate power, has spent years effectively ensuring that there will never be elections as long as he remains alive and that Palestinians will be for ever bound by the failed Oslo Accords that he authored. Whether failing to reconcile with Hamas (and, of course blaming Hamas for the lack of reconciliation) or cancelling local elections, Abbas has halted and stymied Palestinian democracy. He is now in the 12th year of his rule, despite having been elected to serve only four years….

Getting ahead in Hamas: It helps to have street cred
Al-Monitor 14 Dec by Adnan Abu Amer — Young people are finding it difficult to move up the ranks in Hamas, as senior positions are usually reserved for prominent figures such as religious scholars, parliament members and those who have earned their stripes in Israeli prisons — Hamas is celebrating its anniversary this month, with thousands of young people participating in mass rallies in the Gaza Strip to commemorate the group’s founding on Dec. 14, 1987. The fundamentalist Islamic movement’s young people are active in its organizational and partisan bodies and are a valuable asset when it comes to armed operations. This is why Hamas’ youth are seen as the main driving force of the movement’s field operations. Yet its younger members are noticeably absent in leadership positions. On Nov. 27, the first International Youth Conference was held in Gaza and drew many of Hamas’ figureheads and leaders to discuss young Palestinians’ issues and needs. Al-Monitor held a series of meetings with Hamas officials from various levels, who expressed different positions on why young members aren’t moving up in the ranks. Some officials blamed the young people themselves, while others said Hamas’ charter impedes their progress….

Hundreds of children arrive in Bethlehem as part of ‘Bethlehem Heart of Christmas’
IMEMC 17 Dec — On Friday, December 16th, 350 children from around Palestine visited Bethlehem’s holy sites to learn first-hand about Palestine’s living Christian heritage. The event was part of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s 12th Annual “Journey to Bethlehem.” For the majority of these children, this represents the first time they have ever set foot in these holy places. Children came from schools and orphanages around Zababdeh, Jenin, Tulkarem, Jericho, and Birzeit. During their journey, the children received educational tours of Shepherds Field, the Church of the Nativity, the Milk Grotto, and Bethlehem Museum, where they learned about the role that everyday Palestinians have played in preserving Christianity in the Holy Land. After visiting the sites, the children reflected on their favorite things: “We loved visiting the Church of the Nativity! We saw the priests give mass for the first time ever. It was really cool!” – Alisa, 8 years, Jericho.  “We enjoyed the museum, especially seeing the solidarity cross because the word ‘peace’ was written on it. We hope that there will be peace for us soon.” – Dala, 8 years, Jericho….

Thousands more Palestinian workers to enter Israel
Globes 5 Dec by Shira Karpick Sapir — Ministers hope to cut back on an estimated NIS 3 billion in unreported wages paid to workers — On Sunday, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant will bring up for cabinet approval a proposal to increase the quota for Palestinians workers in Israel by 22,000. The proposal has been coordinated with the Ministry of Defense. The proposal is aimed at improving the allocation of Palestinian workers from Judea and Samaria employed in Israel, and to maintain fair employment terms for Palestinian workers in construction, industry, and agriculture. The main points of the proposal are a 9,300 increase in the quota of work permits for the construction industry (on top of the 7,000 workers previously approved only in 2016), a 3,500 increase in employment permits for agriculture, and a 2,200 increase in employment permits for industry. The proposal also substantially eases regulations governing the employment of Palestinian workers. The regulations currently restrict the number of workers each contractor is entitled to employ and the ability of the workers to move from one contractor to another. Contractors and workers will also be able to contract freely with each other, while reporting regularly to the state authorities about where the workers are employed. Under the proposal, an implementation team will be formed to use the Internet to guarantee the Palestinians’ net wages and make sure that their actual pay matches what is reported. This contrasts with the current situation, in which salary is paid in cash, with no effective way of monitoring salary payments. Unreported payments to Palestinian workers are estimated at NIS 3 billion a year….

US brings new charges against Rasmea Odeh
EI 14 Dec by Charlotte Silver — Federal prosecutors have filed a slate of new charges against Rasmea Odeh. “The judge said this isn’t a political trial, but the government in their desperation is turning this into a political case,” the Palestinian American activist’s lead attorney Michael Deutsch told The Electronic Intifada, in response to the new allegations. Barbara McQuade, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, issued the new indictment just a week after Judge Gershwin Drain ordered a new trial for Odeh. But faced with the new charges, Odeh’s defense team has asked for the trial that had been set to start on 10 January in Detroit to be delayed until mid-March. Odeh, 69, was found guilty of immigration fraud in November 2014, stemming from her failure to declare on her immigration and naturalization forms her conviction in an Israeli military court in 1969. She was sentenced to 18 months in prison, revocation of her US citizenship and deportation. But last February, a US appeals court threw out the verdict, ruling that Judge Drain had erred by not allowing Odeh to call an expert witness to testify about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the torture and rape she suffered in Israeli custody – which Odeh’s defense attorneys argue affected her mental state when she filled out her citizenship application in 2004. After government prosecutors failed in their bid to prevent a new trial, US Attorney McQuade asked a grand jury to bring a new indictment against Odeh. The new charges appear to try to circumvent Odeh’s PTSD defense by alleging that she was a member of a “terrorist organization” – the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – and was therefore legally inadmissible to the US when she first immigrated in the 1990s … The Rasmea Defense Committee is calling the new indictment “a vicious attack by prosecutors desperate after a series of setbacks in their case against the Chicago-based Palestinian American community leader.”….

Group headed by Trump’s Israel envoy pick sued for war crimes
EI 16 Dec by Ali Abunimah — President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for US ambassador to Israel is the head of an organization that is being sued by Palestinians for its role in the theft of their land for settlements and other Israeli war crimes. Announcing the nomination, the Trump transition team said that David Friedman would serve from Jerusalem, “Israel’s eternal capital” – signaling that the new administration intends to move the US embassy to the city from its current location in Tel Aviv. Friedman is being described as “more extreme” even than the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu … A bankruptcy lawyer, Friedman is president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center, a nonprofit organization that raises about $2 million a year, mostly for the Beit El settlement, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. This is one of a group of organizations and individuals currently being sued for $34.5 billion by Palestinians who accuse them of financing and profiting from Israel’s settlements….

Peace prospects dead if Trump moves US embassy to Jerusalem: Palestinian aide
JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) 16 Dec By Ori Lewis and Matt Spetalnick — A senior Palestinian official warned on Friday that implementation of Donald Trump’s pledge to relocate the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would destroy any prospects for peace with Israel, even as a spokesman for the U.S. President-elect said he remained committed to the move. Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, issued the grim prediction just a day after Trump announced his decision to nominate as ambassador to Israel David Friedman, a pro-Israel hardliner who supports continued building of Jewish settlements and shifting the embassy from Tel Aviv. Speaking to foreign journalists, Erekat said Jerusalem was a final-status issue to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians, who also want it as the capital of a future independent state. Successive U.S. administrations have avoided formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. If Trump makes good on his campaign promise, it would up-end decades of U.S. policy, enrage the Muslim world and draw international condemnation. Jerusalem is home to sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. “No one should take any decisions which may preempt or prejudge (negotiations) because this will be the destruction of the peace process as a whole,” Erekat said, according to a transcript provided by an aide.

David Friedman, Trump’s chosen Israel envoy: Palestinians seek ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Jews
Haaretz 16 Dec by Allison Kaplan Sommer — UPDATE: This interview was originally published on September 11.–   In a Facebook video published over the weekend, Netanyahu said that support for the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, as part of a two-state peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, was the equivalent of advocating for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.“Prime Minister Netanyahu makes exactly the right point. The Palestinians want Israel to absorb countless ‘refugees’ – people who never lived in Israel and whose ancestors were never forced to leave Israel – while their so-called ‘state’ is required to be, as the Nazis said, Judenrein (devoid of Jews).

Britain restricts Palestinian aid to prevent transfer of money to terrorists
Haaretz 16 Dec by Barak Ravid — Palestinian Authority employees will be individually vetted before money is transferred for their salaries; the funds will no longer support the salaries of Gaza public servants — The government of the United Kingdom announced on Friday that it is restricting the transfer of aid to the Palestinian Authority in order to prevent the transfer of funds to terrorists who have attacked Israelis or to the families of terrorists. The new measures will significantly reduce the volume of aid for the payment of PA salaries. In the future, the recipients of such aid will be individually vetted before the money is transferred. The government said in a statement that aid to the PA, which this year stood at 25 million pounds sterling (120 million shekels, $31 million), would continue, but with the focus on projects that create institutions for the future Palestinian state, contribute to the stability of the West Bank and promote the two-state solution About two months ago, the U.K. government suspended the transfer of some 25 million pounds sterling worth of aid to the PA, out of concern that the money was being used to pay annuities to terrorists or the families of terrorists. [Read UK gov’t statement here]

On memory, politics and being Palestinian in Chile
Mondoweiss 15 Dec by Siri Schwabe — Siri Schwabe conducted fieldwork in the Chilean capital from September 2013 to August 2014. Her thesis “Promised Lands. Memory, Politics, and Palestinianness in Santiago de Chile” explores how politics is practiced, experienced and talked about among Palestinian-Chileans. It shows how memories of political events and places in both Palestine and Chile shape diasporic practices and narratives. The following interview was conducted by Stockholm University’s Department of Social Anthropology … What distinguishes the Palestinian presence in Santiago from its counterpart in other cities in South and Latin America? Is there anything “typical Palestinian-Chilean”? Although there are of course Palestinians spread out across Latin America and beyond, Chile is widely believed to be home to the largest Palestinian population outside the Arab world. There is some uncertainty when it comes to exact numbers, but the general understanding is that there is up to half a million Chileans of Palestinian ancestry on either one or both sides of their family. That alone means that the Palestinian presence in the capital of Santiago is much more notable than in other Latin American cities. A lot of the Palestinian immigrants originally settled down in the neighborhood of Patronato in central Santiago, and this neighborhood is still full of Palestinian-owned shops and factories, not to mention restaurants specializing in Palestinian food. There are lots of Palestinian flags and Palestinian imagery along the streets there, and there’s even a Palestinian church in the centre of the neighborhood … You describe in detail how and what Palestinian-Chileans remember. But what do they dream about? Everyone I got to know during my fieldwork would without a doubt say that they dream of an end to the Israeli occupation and a free Palestine. Some people talked about wanting to move to Palestine, at least for a while, and those who had never been able to go there often said they wish they would be able to visit someday. The Palestinian-Chileans I know are Santiaguinos through and through, however, and share dreams that are well known to most people in the city and beyond and that often revolve around building careers and simply being surrounded by a happy and healthy family.

Palestine 2030
MEMO 14 Dec by Mustafa Barghouti — The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) published a very important study a few days ago titled “Palestine 2030 Demographic Change: Opportunities for Development”. This study – which I hope anyone concerned with policy-making, development or authority in Palestine will read – shows the current demographic shifts in Palestine and the predictions for what the population will be like in 2030 and 2050. The study predicts that the population in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, will rise from 4.7 million in 2015 to 6.9 million in 2030, and then 9.5 million or more in 2050. The surprise is that the population in the Gaza Strip is predicted to be higher in 2050 than in the West Bank: 4.8 million in Gaza compared to 4.7 million in the West Bank. If we assume that the growth rate of the Palestinian population in the territories occupied in 1948 will be the same or slightly lower, then the number of Palestinians in historical Palestine in 2030 will be no less than 9 million. This is significant in the eyes of the Israelis, even as they work night and day to eliminate the idea of a Palestinian state, as there will be no alternative, no matter what they do, other than bring about a single democratic state for everyone between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea….

Book Review: Palestine’s ‘scallywag leader of incredible cunning’
EI 16 Dec by Selma Dabbagh –…As is recounted in Laila Parson’s new biography, The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence, 1914-1948, al-Qawuqji was wanted by both the British and French colonial authorities (the latter being, according to British intelligence, “quite desirous of hanging him”). He was considered by some to have been an Arab Garibaldi, but was maligned by others, including Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini , as a British spy. The British later conjectured that he was actually spying for the Russians. Fawzi al-Qawuqji, in other words, was a figure who provoked strong feelings … Charming, intelligent, wily and strong-willed, al-Qawuqji’s military career spanned more than four decades and made even Che Guevara appear a little slack. He started as a young officer in the Ottoman army fighting the British in the First World War, where he won an Iron Cross. He went on to help lead a massive uprising against the French in Syria, and assist the Palestinian revolution of 1936 against the British (The Arab Revolt) before he was forced out of Palestine. His departure was engineered by the Mufti’s people, according to al-Qawuqji himself … The portrait of al-Qawuqji is a timely addition to a growing body of positive narratives of 20th century Arab heroism as well as a clear-eyed assessment as to how those narratives were deliberately distorted by Western commentators – from historians to photographers (the fifth chapter’s comparison of photos of Arab and Jewish soldiers in 1948 is stunning in this respect)….

groups.yahoo.com/group/f_shadi (listserv)
www.theheadlines.org (archive)

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