Monday, 16 December 2013

In major victory for BDS, US academic group votes to boycott Israel

The American Studies Association has endorsed a boycott of Israeli academic institutions in a vote that took place over the past few days, the organization said on Monday.

Out of the 1,252 members who participated in the vote, 66 percent voted in support of the boycott. The voting was conducted electronically.

The decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions was made unanimously by the ASA's 20-member national council on December 5. The organization's leadership sought the approval of the body’s 5,000 members, which was granted on Monday.

“We believe that the ASA’s endorsement of a boycott is warranted given U.S. military and other support for Israel; Israel’s violation of international law and UN resolutions; the documented impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian scholars and students; the extent to which Israeli institutions of higher education are a party to state policies that violate human rights; and the support of such a resolution by many members of the ASA,” the council's announcement said.

ASA describes itself “devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history.” Voices at the open meeting overwhelmingly favored the boycott, but those opposed said they were not representative of the organization’s broader membership.

According to the ASA website, the boycott will not inhibit collaboration with individual Israeli academics.

“The ASA understands boycott as limited to a refusal on the part of the ASA in its official capacities to enter into formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions, or with scholars who are expressly serving as representatives or ambassadors of those institutions (such as deans, rectors, presidents and others), or on behalf of the Israeli government, until Israel ceases to violate human rights and international law,” the ASA website said. more

Gaza power plant stirs to life as violent storm passes

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Gaza's lone power station rumbled to life on Sunday for the first time in more than seven weeks after receiving a long-awaited delivery of diesel, the electricity company said.

"The power station started reworking gradually after stopping for 50 days," spokesman Jamal Dirsawi told AFP.

The plant, which supplies some 30 percent of the coastal enclave's electricity needs, fell silent on Nov. 1 as the stocks of diesel to power it ran out.

"The first generator has started working, the second one will follow, and by this evening, the company should be able to generate around 60 megawatts of electricity," he said. more

Qatari diesel to run power plant enters Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities started to pump industrial diesel donated by Qatar into the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, a Gaza official told Ma'an.

The move is part of a temporary agreement to ease the blockade following days of record flooding that has devastated large swathes of the besieged coastal enclave.

Raed Fattouh, president of a committee that coordinates the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip, told Ma'an that 450,000 liters of diesel donated by Qatar was being shipped to the coastal enclave via Kerem Shalom crossing on Sunday.

Fattouh added that as a result of an agreement, the Kerem Shalom crossing will temporarily operate for 12 hours a day in order to allow increased quantities of gasoline, domestic-use diesel, and gas to enter the Gaza Strip.

He added that the extended hours would begin on Sunday and continue for the next week.

Eight truckloads of strawberries, flowers and spices are expected to leave the Gaza Strip to European countries through the same crossing on Sunday, added Fattouh, as Gazans take advantage of the temporary ease on the Israeli blockade to ship exports.

In addition, 100 truckloads of goods for commercial use and for agriculture will be allowed into the Gaza Strip as well as limited sums of cement and gravel for internationally-funded projects.

On Friday, Qatari authorities announced that they would donate $10 million to Hamas authorities in Gaza in the wake of the humanitarian crisis caused by severe weather since Thursday.

The donation was given to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to purchase diesel fuel from Israel, and on Sunday the first shipment of diesel fuel began arriving to fuel Gaza's sole power plant. more