Thursday, 19 May 2011

Obama says nothing new as Netanyahu rejects 1967 borders as 'indefensible'

Obama restates the two-states mantra - hardly 'throwing Israel under the bus' as some neocons would have it. In fact Obama's words were in line with those of all previous US presidents: pro-Israel. No change there then, although we're getting used to that from President Obama. Even the Christian Science Monitor was underwhelmed:
What it means in this context, is that he said something that multiple presidents have said before him, but with slightly weaker language. What did he say? "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states."

That an eventual settlement would be based around borders from before the 1967 war, with land "swaps" of some kind to reflect the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, has been a central assumption behind the peace process kicked off under President Bill Clinton in the early 1990s and pursued with subtle variations by presidents George W. Bush and Obama after him. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters, amid a push to restart peace talks that failed, that a solution could be found that "reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders."

Netanyahu is his usual hysterical self, but that's probably because he knows that the Arab people are taking matters into their own hands, and so does the US for that matter:
"Those borders are not defensible," PM rages as he flies off to Washington; Palestinian state must not come "at Israel’s expense"; US President urges resumed talks, focused on territory, security.

A day before their scheduled meeting in Washington, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama staked out dramatically conflicting positions Thursday as to the path for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu issued a quick, bitter response on Thursday night to Obama’s landmark Middle East speech, saying that the establishment of a Palestinian state could not come “at Israel’s expense.” more

World Health Organisation condemns Israel for occupation's impact on healthcare

GENEVA (Ma'an) -- The caretaker Minister of Health said a new victory was chalked at the World Health Organization's 64th assembly this week, when the body passed a resolution condemning the effects of Israel's occupation on Palestinian healthcare.

Fathi Abu Moghli said the draft secured 65 votes, passing the resolution on Wednesday, calling for Israel to take down road blocks currently causing a shortage of medical supplies and treatment. The resolution also calls on Member States and NGOs to provide assistance to meet urgent health and humanitarian needs in the area.

Speaking with Ma'an by phone, Abu Moghli said he gave a presentation to the assembly outlining the health situation in Palestine, with a focus on the effects of Israel's siege on Gaza and the network of walls and roadblocks fragmenting the West Bank and making access to health care slow and arduous.

The treatment of Palestinians in Israeli jails was also mentioned, using several cases where men and women were denied medical treatment while in custody. more

Irish rugby star Trevor Hogan joins flotilla to break siege of Gaza

AS thousands of Leinster rugby fans begin the exodus to Cardiff for this weekend's Heineken Cup final, one rugby star is preparing for a far more formidable journey.

Trevor Hogan (31), who played over 100 games for both Leinster and Munster, will next month be one of 30 Irish people on a major flotilla hoping to break through an Israeli sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The Nenagh man said that the Irish vessel, Saoirse, will be one of 11 ships hoping to provide much needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians next month. The flotilla departs for Gaza just over a year after an Israeli raid on the first Freedom Flotilla resulted in the deaths of nine passengers.

Hogan, who played four times for Ireland, was forced to retire from professional rugby because of a knee injury last January. While playing for Leinster, he studied Arab-Israeli conflicts in UCD with his former coach -- Michael Cheika.

"The injustices there are something I slowly became aware of. I can see the parallels with Palestinian history and Irish history," Trevor explained.

"What has happened to the Palestinian people is unjust and we are hoping to provide humanitarian aid as part of a peaceful mission next month." more

UK's national student union votes to back flotilla, build links with Islamic University of Gaza

From the Jewish Chronicle

A motion, agreed by NUS executive officers on Tuesday, pledged to send British students on future flotillas to Gaza, build links with the Hamas-backed Islamic University of Gaza, twin British student unions with Palestinian universities, and called for the right to return for all Palestinian refugees.

The Union of Jewish Students and the Board of Deputies called on NUS president Aaron Porter to "immediately revoke the policy" and "return to the mainstream of student politics".

An NUS spokesman said Mr Porter and the union stood by the executive committee's decision and declined to comment further.

The motion was due to be discussed at the NUS national conference last month, but delegates agreed it should be resolved by the executive committee. It was passed at the committee's meeting after just 20 minutes of debate. Mr Porter did not vote as he was chairing the meeting.

A member of NUS's Black Students' Committee led the argument in favour of the motion, backed by students from nine universities including SOAS, Essex, Sussex and Bradford...

...Kanja Sesay, NUS Black Students' Officer, said: "It is a victory that NUS is finally standing in solidarity with the Palestinians and supporting their freedom. Winning this policy has been a long struggle."

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign said the new NUS policy was a "victory for tens of thousands of students" and said it looked forward to working with the union to implement it.

The University of London Union - Europe's biggest student union - voted on Wednesday to adopt a full boycott, divestment and sanctions policy against Israel.more

United States tries to warn Turkey off allowing flotilla to go to Gaza

The United States has warned Turkey against a new flotilla to the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, saying it would not be helpful, a senior US administration official has said.

The US has been very clear with the Turkish government that a new flotilla would in no way be helpful, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency to a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs on Wednesday...

...The US has not concealed its sympathy for the Israeli account of the incident. On Wednesday, Gordon said the difference in views between Turkey and the US over the May 31 incident is one of the reasons why the US is viewed unfavorably among Turks.

Commenting on recent poll findings that the US approval rate in Turkey stands at about 10 percent, he said: “It is indeed a very serious issue. We have a country of such strategic importance and historical partnership with the United States. It is disconcerting to hear that only one in 10 have a favorable opinion of the United States.” more

'I felt I was just steps away from returning to Palestine', says injured Golan Heights protester

Ahmad speaks from his hospital bed of the part he played in the Golan demonstration... and his pride.
(AFP) AL-QUNEITRA, Syria — Ahmad al-Saadi, a hospitalised young Palestinian refugee, proudly shows off his left knee which he says was pierced by an Israeli army bullet on the Jewish state's anniversary.

"I felt I was just steps away from returning to Palestine," said the refugee, who along with other demonstrators, crossed into the Israeli-annexed Golan from Syria during a protest march on Sunday on the anniversary of Israel's creation.

"I was the first person hit," said the 21-year-old, resting on a hospital bed in the Syrian village of Al-Quneitra, 70 kilometres (44 miles) from Damascus, at the edge of the Golan Heights which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war. more

Malaysian aid ship running low on supplies as Egypt delays docking at El Arish

EL-ARISH (Egypt), May 18 (Bernama) -- It has been two days since Malaysian humanitarian aid ship MV Finch anchored at the waiting area off El-Arish Port but has yet to receive clear signals if it will be allowed to come to shore, Bernama's correspondent Mohd Faizal Hassan said in a SMS note to Bernama's heaquarters here Wednesday...

...There was only about four tonnes of fresh water left and rationing had been enforced, he said, adding that frantic calls had been made between the ship and El -Arish Port authority, shipping agents in Greece and Egypt as well as Malaysian Embassy officials in Egypt.

Mohd Faizal said it was unclear whether the delay was due to illegal use of Egyptian waters to sneak into Gaza, an act that can be slapped with a fine, or due to incomplete documentation from the shipping agent in Greece where the ship originated. more

Israel 'complains' to UN about aid ship trying to deliver sewage pipes to Gaza

Welcome to the back-to-front world of Israeli diplomacy. Israel goes on a killing spree on its borders against unarmed civilians and it complains to the UN about 'provocation' and now its planning to complain again - this time about aid ship MV Finch (Spirit of Rachel Corrie) trying to deliver sewage pipes to Gaza.
Israel was expected to file a protest with the UN Security Council on Wednesday over a Malaysian ship flying a Moldovan flag that tried to run the sea blockade of the Gaza Strip Monday night, but was turned back by the navy.

The navy, according to Foreign Ministry officials, fired warning shots after the MV Finch – manned by seven Malaysians, a Canadian, two Indians and two Irish – entered Israel’s territorial waters.

The ship, which was carrying plastic sewage pipes intended to be brought into Gaza overland, sailed instead to El Arish. more

Israel threatens Palestinians with West Bank annexation and block on tax money if state vote goes ahead

Under the headline: Making the Land of Israel Whole, Danny Danon writes in the New York Times of the unilateral actions Israel is planning to take to stymie a UN vote on a Palestinian state. Israel is threatening Palestinians with annexation of settlements and cutting off of tax revenues if the vote goes ahead.
The first immediate implication would be that all of the diplomatic and security assistance that Israel provides to the Palestinians would be halted, and the transfer of tax revenues — upward of $1 billion per year — would end permanently. This alone could threaten the very existence of the Palestinian Authority.

Second, a United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood would give Israel an opportunity to rectify the mistake we made in 1967 by failing to annex all of the West Bank (as we did the eastern half of Jerusalem). We could then extend full Israeli jurisdiction to the Jewish communities and uninhabited lands of the West Bank. This would put an end to a legal limbo that has existed for 44 years.

In addition to its obvious ideological and symbolic significance, legalizing our hold on the West Bank would also increase the security of all Israelis by depriving terrorists of a base and creating a buffer against threats from the east. Moreover, we would be well within our rights to assert, as we did in Gaza after our disengagement in 2005, that we are no longer responsible for the Palestinian residents of the West Bank more

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu asks Israel to revoke his citizenship

From Socialist Worker (US)

Former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu became a hero of antiwar and anti-nuclear activists around the world when he acted on his conscience in 1986 to reveal the details of Israel's arsenal of nuclear weaponry. Shortly thereafter, he was kidnapped by Israeli secret service agents and taken to Israel, where he spent 18 years in prison. Since 2004, Vanunu has lived under a highly restrictive house arrest.

In early May, Vanunu sent a letter to Israeli officials requesting the revocation of his citizenship under a new Israeli law that authorizes the rescinding of citizenship to those convicted of "espionage" or "treason."

The law, proposed by the hardline party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and passed in March, was intended to target Israel's Arab citizens by requiring them to take a loyalty oath or face revocation of citizenship. In the letter that reprinted here, Vanunu explains why this law should compel Israel to grant the termination of his Israeli citizenship, as he has long sought.

To Mr. Eli Yishai, Minister of the Interior, 2 Kaplan Street, Hakirya, Jerusalem

Re: Revocation of Citizenship

I am Mordechai Vanunu, who was kidnapped in Rome on September 30, 1986, by the security services of Israel.

I was tried by the Jerusalem District Court, convicted of espionage, treason and assistance to the enemy and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, following a newspaper interview in the London Sunday Times where I told of the production of materials for nuclear arms in Israel.

I have enacted the democratic principle of the public's right to know.

I have spent 18 years at the Ashkelon Prison, mostly under conditions of complete isolation. On April 21, 2004, I was released, under severe restrictions.

Seven years have passed, and the restrictions are renewed again and again, every year, on the basis of the 1945 Defense (Emergency) Regulations. Now these restrictions are about to be renewed for yet another year.

Since my release, I lived for six years in East Jerusalem. Since September 2010, I have lived in Tel Aviv. In June 1986, I have converted to Anglican Christianity.

Recently, the Knesset passed a law authorizing the revocation of Israeli citizenship for those convicted of espionage and treason. For 25 years, I am waiting and demanding the restoration of my complete freedom.

I am asking the state of Israel to revoke my citizenship. This wish for revocation of citizenship is neither new nor recent. Now, however, it is supported by the new Citizenship Revocation Law, passed on March 28, 2011.

I am asking and expecting that this law be enforced to the letter, and that my citizenship be revoked here and now, under the spirit of the law. I have no other citizenship, but I can easily get one, even during my enforced sojourn in Israel, and certainly if I leave the country.

After the treatment and "care" which I got from this country and its citizens, I cannot feel myself a wanted citizen here. In the Israeli media and on the Israeli streets, I am called "the atomic spy" and "a traitor," harassed and persecuted as an enemy of the state for 25 years.

I feel myself still imprisoned, still a prisoner of war and a hostage, held by the state and the government. After 25 years of getting various harsh penalties from the state, I would like to see an end to punishments and the realization of my basic human right to freedom.

I wish to exercise my right to the freedom of conscience and the freedom of choice--by choosing not to be a citizen of Israel.

I have no interest in Israeli citizenship. I do not want to live here. I ask that you revoke my citizenship here and now. I request that you set me free of Israel, since Israel does not want me, nor do I want Israel.

All that I knew I told already in 1986 to the English newspaper. I have no further confidential information. The time has come to let me leave Israel, after 25 years of imprisonment, a full quarter of a century!

Mordechai Vanunu

Copies: The President, Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Foreign Minister and Justice Minister.

Occupation rounds up teenagers and a newspaper director in post-Nakba swoops

WEST BANK, (PIC)– The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up Wednesday morning 12 Palestinians in the West Bank, among them five minors under age 18.

The IOF nabbed six boys, five of them under 18, at 2:30 a.m. in Azzoun village east of Qalqilya after patrolling the village and then raiding their parents’ homes and tampering with their property.

The IOF arrested two more young men after raiding several homes in Houssam west of Bethlehem in the southern West Bank after carrying out search raids on several homes.

The same day, Israeli authorities have transferred Waleed Khalid, director of the West Bank newspaper “Falastin”, to administrative detention for six months, claiming that he poses a threat to the Israeli state.

Khalid has spent a total of around 16 years in Israeli prisons and solitary confinement.

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