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Israeli Use of Palestinians As Human Shields
By Stephen Lendman
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is a Gaza-based Palestinian NGO mandated "to promote, protect and prevent violations of human rights in general, and economic, social and cultural rights in particular, to provide effective aid to those victims of such violations, and to enhance the quality of life of the community in (Gaza's) marginalized sectors."
It monitors and documents violations, provides legal aid and advocacy, and helps Gazans on "fundamental issues such as basic human rights, democracy, and international humanitarian" matters. It also produces reports and publications on its work.
Recognizing the Jewish State of Israel
What are the consequences of Israel’s newest demand for recognition on the Palestinian people and prospects for peace?
By Abu Yusef from occupied Palestine | Palestine Monitor | 19 April 2009
Here in Palestine, we have been utterly confused as to why Israel has publicly backtracked from the Annapolis Peace Process over the last weeks, in the midst of overt US pressure to continue the broken negotiations.
We understand that parties like Shas, Likud, Israel Beitenu and others in the coalition do not want to achieve any meaningful peace, and that in fact they want only to extend the Israel’s civilian and military reach into the occupied Palestinian Territories…so why would they be adverse to what had taken place since Annapolis? If anything they should be the ones eagerly promoting a return to the process, while the Palestinians should be running for the hills.
After all, since Annapolis:
- Not one of the over 6 million Palestinian refugees from abroad has been granted the right of return to either Israel or the occupied Palestinian Territories.
- Gaza, while disengaged from by Israel in the civilian sense, remains occupied and controlled by Israel in every other way imaginable.
- The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has increased to over 11,000.
- The Judaization of East Jerusalem has continued full bore with the destruction and seizure of hundreds of Palestinian homes.
- The illegal annexation Wall has continued to grow in the occupied Palestinian Territories despite its condemnation in international and Israeli courts.
- The settlement enterprise not only continued throughout 2008, it increased dramatically. Tenders for new construction increased by 550% (!), and a whole 55% of these were designated for construction even beyond the illegal annexation Wall.
- The system of checkpoints and movement restrictions, by which Palestine is turned in to a series of isolated cantons, have increased dramatically throughout 2008, and are set to increase ever more according to the promises of Israel’s Avigdor Liebermann.
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" policies in annexed east Jerusalem, where the municipality plans to tear down almost 90 Arab homes.
"I believe the Israeli government is carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians here in east Jerusalem," said Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel prize for her efforts at reaching a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland.
"I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people," she said at a news conference.
It was held in a protest tent erected by residents of east Jerusalem's Silwan neighbourhood where 88 Arab homes are under demolition orders.
Harman's Wiretap Woes and the AIPAC Clique
By Marcy Winograd
How ironic that I made my decision to challenge Jane Harman in 2006 after watching her Meet the Press interview in which she lambasted the New York Times for breaking the story about the Bush administration's massive illegal wiretapping. "Oh my God," I told my husband, who was doing Sunday sit-ups in front of the television set, "this woman needs to be challenged -- on the wiretaps, on the war, and on her collusion with the Bush mob."
By the time I poured my coffee and cranked up my cell phone, I was off and running, campaigning as an insurgent Democratic Party peace candidate in the 36th congressional district.
The Aftermath of the War on Gaza and Israeli Elections: Problems and Prospects Facing Palestinian/Israeli Peace
Executive Summary | Link to complete paper
The War on Gaza ‐ The 22‐day war on Gaza did not move the conflict closer to resolution. After the war the imbalance of threats remains the same. HAMAS was able to launch rockets on the last day of the war and Israel maintains the ability to prevent food and fuel from entering the strip and can bombard it at will. The end result will undoubtedly have to be a negotiated agreement based on the security needs of both sides and for this to work it must be evenhandedly mediated and verified by third parties.
West Bank Situation ‐ As recently as this month the State of Israel announced plans for the major expansion of settlements in the West Bank. The establishment and expansion of settlements, still illegal under international law, continues unabated, striking at the very heart of Palestinians distrust of the State of Israel. Throughout the peace process settlements have continued to be built or expanded and have created the perception among Palestinians that Israel is only interested in talking about a two‐state solution without genuinely being willing to craft the necessary policies to make it a reality.. Land confiscation and home demolition continues in sensitive areas like East Jerusalem while a separation wall and checkpoints continue to make freedom of movement nearly impossible.
Palestinian Leadership Issues ‐ Since the death of Yasser Arafat divisions in Palestinian politics have continued to grow. Erupting in bloody conflict in the summer of 2007, the growing dispute between HAMAS and FATEH has left the internationally recognized Palestinian leadership in a week and illegitimate position. Recently conducted public opinion polling shows that the war on Gaza seems to have exacerbated the Palestinian crisis of legitimacy and calls into question the ability of President Mahmoud Abass to govern or negotiate a lasting peace. Many elected representatives in the Palestinian Legislative Council continue to be held by Israel as political prisoners.
Israel Leadership Issues ‐ The recent elections in Israel, which have lead to a new government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have brought the right wing of the Israeli political spectrum to power. Netanyahu’s previous record as Prime Minister, the platform positions of the empowered right wing parties, and statements of party officials during the campaign period indicate that the policies of the next Israeli government is not supportive of the two state solution within the framework of pertinent UN resolutions. The US government should ensure that the upcoming Israeli government publically declares its support for such a solution and that the latter takes tangible steps to enact it.
United Nations officials on Monday tried to save an anti-racism summit in Geneva after some delegates walked out in response to a speech by Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, the Iranian president, describing Zionist rule in Israel as racist.
”Following World War II they resorted to military aggressions to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering,” Mr Ahmadinejad told the conference, speaking through a translator.
Peter Gooderham, British ambassador, condemned the Iranian leader’s ”offensive and inflammatory comments” that prompted the temporary walk-out. Delegates said they would return after he had finished speaking.
Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.
Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.
The Israeli military is preparing itself to launch a massive aerial assault on Iran's nuclear facilities within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.
Among the steps taken to ready Israeli forces for what would be a risky raid requiring pinpoint aerial strikes are the acquisition of three Airborne Warning and Control (AWAC) aircraft and regional missions to simulate the attack.
Two nationwide civil defence drills will help to prepare the public for the retaliation that Israel could face.
“Israel wants to know that if its forces were given the green light they could strike at Iran in a matter of days, even hours. They are making preparations on every level for this eventuality. The message to Iran is that the threat is not just words,” one senior defence official told The Times.
Officials believe that Israel could be required to hit more than a dozen targets, including moving convoys. The sites include Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges produce enriched uranium; Esfahan, where 250 tonnes of gas is stored in tunnels; and Arak, where a heavy water reactor produces plutonium.
The distance from Israel to at least one of the sites is more than 870 miles, a distance that the Israeli force practised covering in a training exercise last year that involved F15 and F16 jets, helicopters and refuelling tankers.
The possible Israeli strike on Iran has drawn comparisons to its attack on the Osirak nuclear facility near Baghdad in 1981. That strike, which destroyed the facility in under 100 seconds, was completed without Israeli losses and checked Iraqi ambitions for a nuclear weapons programme.
The United States is boycotting a U.N. conference on racism next week over a document that "singles out" Israel in its criticism and conflicts with the nation's "commitment to unfettered free speech," the U.S. State Department said Saturday.
The Obama administration made the decision not to attend the Durban Review Conference in Geneva "with regret," a State Department statement said.
Two months ago, the administration had warned that it would boycott the conference if changes were not made to the document to be adopted by the conference. In recent weeks, discussions over the document have fueled several revisions, but the changes to the language didn't meet U.S. expectations, the statement said.
The following the complete text of Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee's letter to the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council, over Israel's latest threats to attack Iran. From Press TV
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
In a direct challenge to President Barack Obama's commitment to rejuvenate moribund Mideast peace talks, Israel on Thursday dismissed American-led efforts to establish a Palestinian state and laid out new conditions for renewed negotiations.
Leaders of Israel's hawkish new government told former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, the special U.S. envoy, that they aren't going to rush into peace talks with their Palestinian neighbors.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would require Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state in any future negotiations - a demand that Palestinians have up to now rejected, Israeli government officials said.
I keep braying that Gaza is a watershed moment in American political life and American Jewish life.
The billboard is one of ten being put up in New Mexico by an Albuquerque-based grassroots org (the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel).
The group looks to be multicultural, and led by two Jews, Lori Rudolph and Rich Forer. Forer says that he is a former member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who has been shaken from ideological slumbers in the last couple of years by the Israeli New Historians.
He has learned that Jewish schoolchildren are "grossly misinformed" about the conflict and are taught to demonize Palestinians. Gaza was a "monstrous act of inhumanity," he continues, and Israel must act sincerely to restore the dignity to both peoples.
Monstrous act of inhumanity, that is the takeaway phrase. I believe anyone can be a member of AIPAC; but Forer's epiphany is evidently sincere, and symptomatic of a change in the American Jewish relationship to Israel that AIPAC will have to reckon with.
Investigating Israeli War Crimes in Gaza
by Stephen Lendman
Independent investigations and convincing testimonies, on both sides, provide compelling evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. It's time to hold the guilty accountable.
In February, the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights showed conclusively how Israel violated core international law principles by indiscriminately attacking civilians in spite of IDF claims such instances were justified.
Amnesty International accused Israel of war crimes and called on the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has a long record of acting as an imperial agent even while at times fulfilling its mandate "to protect the human rights of people around the world....stand with (them) and uphold political freedom (by) bring(ing) offenders to justice."
By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI
Gulf Cooperation Council members -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman -- are getting ready for what many now assume will be retaliation from Iran following Israeli bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities later this year.
Up and down the Persian Gulf, Patriot missile batteries have been quietly deployed around key oil installations. The Patriot system is designed to detect, target and then hit incoming missiles that may be no more than 10 to 20 feet long and flying at three to five times the speed of sound. Iran has hundreds of missiles and rockets.
Sometimes, reading about the Middle East, or at least about Israel, Iran, and nuclear weapons, feels like your most basic broken-record phenomenon. As New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen reminded readers recently, there's nothing new about Israeli predictions that Iranian "madmen" -- or rather, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of a rather extreme new government, put it recently, "a messianic apocalyptic cult" -- would soon have nuclear weapons in their hands. The charges and predictions of the imminent arrival of the Iranian bomb go back well into the 1990s and yet, despite Iran's growing nuclear enrichment program, we still don't know what the true predilections of its leaders are on the basic issue of weaponization. (They might, for instance, be planning to opt for the Japan "solution," not weaponizing, but simply being capable of doing so relatively quickly.)
The other part of that broken-record phenomenon concerns Israel's nuclear arsenal, which I wrote about at TomDispatch back in 2003, since which time remarkably little has changed. One of the genuinely strange aspects of just about anything you can read here in the U.S. on nuclear weapons and the Middle East is this: all fear and much print (and TV time) is focused on whether the Iranians may someday, in the near or far future, get a nuclear weapon; that is, we're focused on a weapon that doesn't yet exist and, for all we know, may never exist.
A week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 20-foot containers of munitions, each weighing 14,000 tonnes, to Israel.
In the dying days of the Bush administration, and a week before Israel launched an aerial bombing campaign, followed by a land invasion of the Gaza Strip, the U.S. military shipped 989 containers of munitions to Israel.
Each container was 20-feet long with a total estimated net weight of 14,000 tonnes. The shipment reportedly reached Israel last month at Ashod, 40 kiometres north of Gaza. The huge arsenal of munitions will replenish those expended in the Gaza War.
According to Amnesty International in the UK, the shipment included white phosphorous.
By Dave Lindorff
When I was a 17-year-old kid in my senior year of high school, I didn’t think much about Vietnam. It was 1967, the war was raging, but I didn’t personally know anyone who was over there, Tet hadn’t happened yet. If anything, the excitement of jungle warfare attracted my interest more than anything (I had a .22 cal rifle, and liked to go off in the woods and shoot at things, often, I’ll admit, imagining it was an armed enemy.)
But then I had to do a major project in my humanities program and I chose the Vietnam War. As I started researching this paper, which was supposed to be a multi-media presentation, I ran across a series of photos of civilian victims of American napalm bombing. These victims, often, were women and children—even babies.
By Gareth Porter and Jim Lobe, IPS
WASHINGTON, Apr 8 (IPS) - A recent statement by the chief of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. David Petraeus, that Israel may decide to attack Iranian nuclear sites has been followed by indications of a debate within the Barack Obama administration on whether Israel's repeated threats to carry out such a strike should be used to gain leverage in future negotiations with Tehran.
In the latest twist, Vice President Joseph Biden, who has been put in charge of the administration’s non-proliferation agenda, appeared to reject the idea. "I don't believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu would [launch a strike]," he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Tuesday. "I think he would be ill-advised to do that."
Philip Rizk, 27, a freelance journalist and blogger who has been reporting from Gaza since 2005, was taken by Egyptian security forces after a pro-Palestinian rally in Cairo on February 6.
He was released a few days later without being charged.
While in Gaza, he filmed The Palestinian Life, a documentary highlighting non-violent means of resistance against the Israeli occupation.
The film is premiering at the London International Documentary Festival on April 4. Here are excerpts from an interview Rizk gave to Al Jazeera shortly before the film’s debut.
Calling for a Boycott of Israel for its Treatment of Palestinians is not Anti-Semitic
Montclair, NJ, April 8, 2009 -- More than 370 Jewish peace activists from around the world signed a statement defending German politician Hermann Dierkes against charges of anti-Semitism.
Dierkes, a left-wing politician with a distinguished record of fighting for social justice, called for a boycott of Israeli goods as a means of putting pressure on the Israeli government to end its oppression of Palestinians. For this he has been subjected to vicious denunciations for anti-Semitism.
The signers of the statement -- from Israel, Germany, the United States, and several other countries -- expressed their objection to those "who use charges of anti-Semitism to attempt to squelch legitimate dissent."
Obama team readying for confrontation with Netanyahu
By Aluf Benn | Haaretz
In an unprecedented move, the Obama administration is readying for a possible confrontation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by briefing Democratic congressmen on the peace process and the positions of the new government in Israel regarding a two-state solution.
The Obama administration is expecting a clash with Netanyahu over his refusal to support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Israel on Trial
By GEORGE BISHARAT, NY Times
CHILLING testimony by Israeli soldiers substantiates charges that Israel’s Gaza Strip assault entailed grave violations of international law. The emergence of a predominantly right-wing, nationalist government in Israel suggests that there may be more violations to come. Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians also constituted war crimes, but do not excuse Israel’s transgressions. While Israel disputes some of the soldiers’ accounts, the evidence suggests that Israel committed the following six offenses:
• Violating its duty to protect the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Despite Israel’s 2005 “disengagement” from Gaza, the territory remains occupied. Israel unleashed military firepower against a people it is legally bound to protect.
The top U.N. aid official in the Gaza Strip urged Israel on Friday to ease restrictions on the flow of goods into the conflict-torn territory, saying they were "devastating" for the people.
"It's wholly and totally inadequate," John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said about the amount of goods Israel permits into the territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.
"It's having a very devastating impact on the physical circumstances and also the mindset of people on the ground," he said.
Israel says it has opened Gaza's border to larger amounts of food and medicine since its December-January offensive against Hamas militants who control the Palestinian enclave and were firing rockets against Israeli towns.
GENEVA (AFP) — Former international prosecutor Richard Goldstone will lead a human rights probe into violence during Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip three months ago, the United Nations said Friday.
"It is in the interest of all Palestinians and Israelis that the allegations of war crimes and serious human rights violations related to the recent conflict on all sides be investigated," Goldstone said in a statement.
The 47-member UN Human Rights Council voted by a large majority on January 12 to set up the probe into "grave" human rights violations by Israeli forces against the Palestinians.
"I am confident that the mission will be in a position to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the conflict which took place between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009," said Council president Martin Uhomoibhi.
Israel's Illegal Annexation of East Jerusalem
by Stephen Lendman
So says a confidential EU report revealed on March 7 by The London Guardian's Rory McCarthy. It accuses Israel "of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank (Separation) barrier as a way of 'actively pursuing the illegal annexation' of East Jerusalem." More still, including restrictive permits, "closure of Palestinian institutions," and various other ways to "increase Jewish presence in" the city, "impede Palestinian urban development, and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank" incrementally to annex it.
It says plans are now accelerated and have undermined the Palestinian Authority's (PA) credibility as well as weakened support for peace. It calls "Israel's actions in and around Jerusalem....one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making (yet) have limited security justifications." In addition, they're illegal.
The message from Israel's new prime minister is stark: if the Obama administration doesn't prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, Israel may be forced to attack.
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