Sunday, 6 September 2009

Finkelstein pulls out of Gaza march initiative

Norman Finkelstein has pulled out of the coalition that has come together for a peaceful international march on Gaza due to what he sees as a new 'sectarian' agenda that has been 'foisted' on the initiative under the guise of a 'political context'. Not sure what exactly is going on here but Finkelstein's statement on thr matter is reproduced below:

Why I resigned from the Gaza Freedom March coalition

The original consensus of the International Coalition to End the Illegal Siege of Gaza was that we would limit our statement to a pair of uncontroversial, basic and complementary principles that would have the broadest possible appeal: the march to break the siege would be nonviolent and anchored in international law. I agreed with this approach and consequent statement and decided to remove myself from the steering committee in order to invest my full energies in mobilizing for the march.

During the week beginning August 30, 2009 and in a matter of days an entirely new sectarian agenda dubbed “the political context” was foisted on those who originally signed on and worked tirelessly for three months. Because it drags in contentious issues that — however precious to different constituencies — are wholly extraneous to the narrow but critical goal of breaking the siege this new agenda is gratuitously divisive and it is almost certain that it will drastically reduce the potential reach of our original appeal.

It should perhaps be stressed that the point of dispute was not whether one personally supported a particular Palestinian right or strategy to end the occupation. It was whether inclusion in the coalition’s statement of a particular right or strategy was necessary if it was both unrelated to the immediate objective of breaking the siege and dimmed the prospect of a truly mass demonstration. In addition the tactics by which this new agenda was imposed do not bode well for the future of the coalition’s work and will likely move the coalition in an increasingly sectarian direction.

I joined the coalition because I believed that an unprecedented opportunity now exists to mobilize a broad public whereby we could make a substantive and not just symbolic contribution towards breaking the illegal and immoral siege of Gaza and, accordingly, realize a genuine and not just token gesture of solidarity with the people of Gaza. In its present political configuration I no longer believe the coalition can achieve such a goal.

Because I would loathe getting bogged down in a petty and squalid public brawl I will not comment further on this matter unless the sequence of events climaxing in my decision to resign are misrepresented by interested parties. However I would be remiss in my moral obligations were I not humbly to apologize to those who, either coaxed by me or encouraged by my participation, gave selflessly of themselves to make the march a historic event and now feel aggrieved at the abrupt turn of events.

It can only be said in extenuation that I along with many others desperately fought to preserve the ecumenical vision that originally inspired the march but the obstacles thrown in our path ultimately proved insurmountable.

From the Comment Factory

Netanyah's green light for more illegal settlements, prisoner talks stall

Israel has made it known that it intends to push ahead with more settlements on the West Bank despite pressure from the US to end any further expansion plans. This from PIC
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Sunday that Israel’s persistence in the expansion of its settlements proves that US president Barack Obama failed to curb the occupation and lost his credibility regarding the settlement process in the region.

In a press statement to the Palestinian information center (PIC), spokesman Abu Zuhri stressed that the peaceful settlement option is a term that only exists in the minds of those who wager on it, while Israel on the ground is persistent in judaizing the Palestinian lands.

The spokesman also deplored, in another context, the Palestinian Authority’s security apparatuses for turning back Israeli settlers who mistakenly entered West Bank cities, saying that this behavior is the biggest example of the size of the security coordination between the PA and the Israeli occupation.

The Israeli Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that Benjamin Netanyahu would approve on Sunday during a cabinet meeting a plan to construct hundreds of settlement units in the West Bank.

There is still no news on the outcome of talks in Egypt aimed at securing the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange of Israeli prisoner of war Shalit. See the interview above with the speaker of the Palestinian parliament recently released from an Israeli prison.

Israelis kill Palestinian teenager in north Gaza

A Palestinian boy was killed by the IDF on Saturday. He was driving with his father to their field near the border town of Beit Hanoun. Israel is attempting to create a defacto buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the border which in effect puts yet more farmland out of reach of Palestinian farmers, unless they wish to risk death, as this latest incident shows. The IDF however claimed they were responding to mortar fire, although there was none at the time.

15-year-old Ghazi al-Za'aneen died from his severe wounds at the Shifa hospital.

Hamas sees progress in Cairo national dialogue talks

PIC - Dr. Khalil Al-Haya, a member of Hamas's political bureau, said on Sunday that Cairo would table within a few days a new proposal ending all pending issues in the Palestinian dialog.

He added in a statement to Safa news agency that in the event the proposal was endorsed then the Palestinian factions would be invited early next month to Cairo for a serious and in-depth dialog.

The ball is now in Fatah's court if it really wanted reconciliation and an end to division, Haya said, adding that Fatah should not resort to "unrealistic pretexts".

The Hamas leader denied knowledge of the content of the Egyptian proposal but said it would certainly build on what was agreed upon in previous rounds of national dialog.

He said that his Movement was keen on success of the national reconciliation and was confident of the Egyptian determination to reach an agreement ending the internal Palestinian rift.

A senior level Hamas delegation led by its political bureau chairman Khaled Mishaal is currently visiting Cairo for talks on the Palestinian national dialog.