Monthly Archives: January 2013

Be inspired! Palestine Twinning Conference January 12th 2013

Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian

Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian

And inspired the conference attendees were, by the talk of the Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian. I find it remarkable how varied Palestinians are, considering the small population ( about 4 million according to the World Bank). From skilled, but often uneducated, farmers to urbane academics; from powerful women protesters to those following more traditional roles, there is no ‘one size that fits all’.

Super articulate and upbeat, Ambassador Hassassian’s talk was peppered with good humour.

His key themes were

  • The importance of the Twinning Initiative. Our world is a world of images. Twinning circumvents the stereotypes and enriches the bonding of people.
  • Palestinians have their own sense of pluralism and democracy – universities are a shining example of what Palestinians can achieve.
  • Education is the Palestinian ticket out of the ghetto. Palestine has great universities and this achievement illustrates what it can do.
  • Israel is only interested in the West Bank to fulfil a messianic dream, it is not interested in occupying Gaza. It’s a democracy occupying another country: settlements are snaking their way over the West Bank.
  • Israel is a genius in crisis management but not in conflict resolution, it is virtually the 51st state of the US. They only want occupied Palestine as a market – Palestine is the second highest consumer of Israeli goods, US is the first.
  • The US has failed as an honest broker in the peace process; there is great disappointment in Obama
  • He considers Islamic fundamentalism a challenge. Religion is a zero sum activity.
  • There is no immediate solution to the situation – the next 5 years are going to be difficult

His resounding message:

“The process of history is made by people not governments”

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What price Palestinian Statehood? – West Bank Under Increased Threat

The jubilant celebrations that I witnessed in Palestine when the UN General Assembly voted for an observer state status are in direct conflict with the grim reality on the ground. All non-violent demonstrations that resist the occupation of Palestine are deemed illegal and suppressed by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) – relabelled to reflect its real role as the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF). Any place where a demonstration takes place – village, street or field can be decreed a Closed Military Zone and demonstrators attacked using an array of deterrents: skunk water, tear gas, rubber coated steel bullets, live ammunition and arrests. In Nabi Saleh when I was there my friend’s brother, sitting on the hill overlooking the village spring ‘stolen’ by the settlement Halamish, was shot and subsequently died of his wounds.

Collective Punishment

The day after the after the Palestinians obtained a limited statehood at the United Nations General Assembly, the Israeli government decided “to punish” them by tripling its illegal settlement building. Plans for building in E1 zone (see below) is a ‘game-changer’, destroying any chances of a viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

HFOY map for blog 15 Jan 2013

A New Form of Resistance

Last Friday, Facebook and Twitter were on fire with news of a tent village, optimistically called Bab AlShams, the Gate of the Sun, secretly erected in E1 but on private, Palestine land next to a Bedouin encampment.HFOY Photo of E1 occupation

Carefully planned with about 250 demonstrators coming from all over the West Bank, braving the bitter cold, the village was equipped with a medical tent, wifi hotspot, embedded international news outlets, kitchen, library and rubbish collection. One leader called it ‘constructive resistance’..

The village lasted two days, Eviction was temporarily halted when lawyers obtained an injunction from the High Court of Justice. Netanyahu demanded that this should be overturned, the Ministry of Justice claiming: “There is an urgent security need to evacuate the area of the people and tents,” suggesting without evidence that a few hundred unarmed activists presented a grave threat to public safety. This action illustrates Israeli racist policies: there are 120 illegal outposts (embryonic settlements) in the West Bank, which are never dismantled but are allowed to gradually expand before being eventually declared ‘legal’ by the Israeli state.

A New Model for Non-Violent Protest?

The camp was evicted by about 500 occupation soldiers. Protesters refusing to leave were assaulted, six needing hospitalization. Mohammed Khatib of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said: ‘ We will not remain silent as Israel continues to build Jewish-only colonies on our land. Bab Al Shams is no more, but during its short two days it gave new life and energy to all who passed through it. In establishing Bal Al Shams we declare that we have had enough of demanding our rights from the occupier – from now on we shall seize them ourselves’.

As the USA and the EU sit idly by, it is up to the Palestinian grass roots movement to stand up for justice again – is this the start of the 3rd Intifada?



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Filed under Israeli occupation forces, Occupation, Yatma