Sunday, 21 September 2014

Countering Israeli greenwashing at the People’s Climate March

From The Electronic Intifada - As a possibly historic People’s Climate March in New York City approaches this weekend, a debate among participants and the organizers over Israel-aligned co-sponsors smolders below the surface...

...The story reaches far beyond several Israel-aligned groups sponsoring a single climate march. Faced with consistent negative global perceptions over state policies in the occupied Palestinian territories and in the region, the Israeli foreign ministry officially launched the “Brand Israel” campaign in 2006. With the help of US marketing executives, the Israeli government poured in enormous resources to “rebrand” Israel in a positive light upon the world. By 2010, the ministry allotted some $26 million for branding efforts.

Part of the spin campaign comes under the guise of protecting the environment. In June 2012, Israel, for the first time, launched “an international television campaign on CNN to brand itself as a green country which pioneers ‘green technology,’” its US embassy stated. “Israel advertises its green technology edge to strengthen its image as a ‘Green Country,” according to the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Efforts to rebrand Israel explicitly aim to divert attention away from Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, instead focusing on Israel’s positively spun and frequently overblown “green” achievements. The mission of the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA), a co-sponsor of the People’s Climate March, harmonizes with Israel’s rebranding campaigns.

Spokespeople from the Green Zionist Alliance were not available for comment, directing inquiries to their website. GZA’s statement on Gaza this summer attempts to equalize the disproportion of violence and calls for a two-state solution. Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” that lasted 51 days killed more than 2100 Palestinians (mostly civilians, including more than 500 children), as well as five Israeli civilians (including one child), a Thai migrant worker, and 66 Israeli soldiers.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Israel ranks at the bottom 33 out of 36 countries in “water quality” and 25 out of 36 countries in air pollution.

In order to mask Israel’s ongoing military occupation and colonization of the occupied territories and to hide its poor record when it comes to adverse environmental impacts, the Israeli government and its allies abroad continue to pour enormous resources into branding projects. more

Gaza families mourn amid failure to find missing shipwreck victims

More than two weeks after a boat carrying migrants to Europe sunk off the coast of Malta, none of the bodies of Palestinians who are thought to have drowned at sea have been recovered by search teams.

Eight Palestinians are known to have survived the Sept. 6 shipwreck that killed around 500 migrants, and they are being cared for between Italy, Greece, and Malta.

But Palestinian ambassador to Italy Mai al-Kaila on Saturday told Ma'an that rescuers have had difficulties recovering bodies from the sea because the boat capsized in international waters.

Despite this, however, she said that Italian coastal guards are continuing the search for the missing.

Al-Kaila said that Italian authorities have promised to give political asylum to two Palestinians who survived the shipwreck, and the pair will also be allowed to bring their families to live in Italy.

Meanwhile, Marwan Tubasi, Palestine's ambassador to Greece, told Ma'an Saturday that authorities in that country had granted three Palestinian survivors permission to stay for six months, and that the embassy was working to acquire them Palestinian passports as well. more

Soldiers kidnap 8 more Palestinians on West Bank as detainee numbers mount further

At least eight Palestinians have been kidnapped, on Sunday at dawn, during Israeli military invasions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank districts of Hebron, Bethlehem and Jenin.

Local sources in Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank, have reported that several Israeli military jeeps invaded Beit Ummar town and al-‘Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, and Yatta town, south of the city, searched a number of homes and kidnapped four Palestinians.

The soldiers kidnapped Wahid Hasan Sabarna, 23, from his home in Beit Ummar, and Fares at-Teety from his home in the al-‘Arroub refugee camp.

In addition, soldiers kidnapped Ahmad al-Qawasmi also after breaking into his home and ransacking it, in Hebron city.

In Yatta town, south of Hebron, soldiers invaded at least one home, and kidnapped Mohammad Maher al-‘Adra, 22.

In Bethlehem, soldiers kidnapped three Palestinians from the al-Walaja, west of Bethlehem, allegedly while trying to enter Jerusalem for work, without carrying permits.

The three have been identified as Hamza Saleh Ma’ali, 28, Mohammad Salah Ma’ali, 20, and Baha’ Karim Abu at-Teen, 24.

In addition, a number of military vehicles invaded al-’Arqa village, west of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, before the soldiers searched and ransacked a number of homes, and kidnapped a resident identified as Mahmoud Tawfiq Yahia, 21. more

Cabinet approves $5 billion plan for Gaza rehabilitation

The Palestinian cabinet has recently approved a $5 billion plan for economic revival and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip in the wake of the Israeli assault, a senior official said Saturday.

"We will seek to collect international donations in order to materialize our ambitious vision of rebuilding Gaza during the donor countries conference scheduled to be held in Cairo on Oct. 12," Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Mustafa said in a statement Saturday.

The rehabilitation of infrastructure in Gaza will cost $1.9 billion, while reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses will cost another billion.

Some $700 million will be needed for humanitarian, social, health, and education aid for Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom lost homes and family members and some of whom became disabled as a result of the war, the statement added.

Meanwhile, $1.2 billion will be needed to reactivate Gaza's economy and increase productivity. more

Gaza ceasefire indirect talks to resume in Egypt on Wednesday

RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians on consolidating the Gaza truce are set to resume in Cairo Wednesday, two days after new reconciliation negotiations between Fatah and Hamas, officials said.

On August 26, both sides agreed a truce that ended 50 days of deadly conflict in the enclave and provided for a resumption of negotiations within a month to discuss unresolved issues.

These include the construction of a seaport and restoring the territory's airport, and exchanging Palestinian prisoners for the remains of captured Israeli soldiers.

The indirect talks between Israel and a delegation of all Palestinian groups will be preceded by talks between the two heavyweights of Palestinian politics, the Fatah faction of president Mahmoud Abbas and its rival Hamas.

"Egypt has invited Palestinian and Israeli delegations to resume talks in Cairo on September 24," a Palestinian official said.

There has been no official word yet from Israel, but an Egyptian official confirmed the date and added that Fatah and Hamas had also been invited to meet on Monday. more