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We provide links to articles we think will be of interest to our supporters, informing them of issues, events, debates and the wider context of the conflict. We are sympathetic to much of the content of what we post, but not to everything. The fact that something has been linked to here does not necessarily mean that we endorse the views expressed in it.

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Settlements Generate Virtually No Economic Activity
"A recent Israeli government report estimated there are…$250 million in annual exports — [only] 0.55 percent of the national total — from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, territories the international community generally considers illegally occupied."
Jodi Rodoren cited by Richard Silverstein, 22 Jan 2014

Daily acts of violence committed by Jewish Israeli citizens against West Bank Palestinians
"These incidents — now particularly heightened during the olive harvest season — are not the aberration from the norm, but a regular feature of life in the occupied West Bank. In 2012, over 7,500 Palestinian olive trees were destroyed. In the 5-year period between 2007 and 2011, there was a 315 percent increase in settler violence."
Mairav Zonszein, Israel Must Stop Settler Violence, 8 November 2013
Police impunity
After their own investigations establishing a prima facie violation, Btselem has lodged over 280 complaints of alleged police violence in the oPt since the start of the second Intifada: "we are aware of only 12 indictments" Btselem April 2013
Runners in the first ever Bethlehem Marathon were forced to run two laps of the same course on Sunday 21 April 2013, as Palestinians were unable to find a single stretch of free land that is 26 miles long in Area A, where the PA has both security and civil authority. See Marathon report
30th March, land day.
On 30 March 1976, thousands of Palestinians living as a minority in Israel mounted a general strike and organised protests against Israeli government plans to expropriate almost 15,000 acres of Palestinian land in the Galilee.The Israeli government, led by prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and defence minister Shimon Peres, sent in the army to break up the general strike. The Israeli army killed six unarmed Palestinians, wounded hundreds and arrested hundreds more, including political activists. All were citizens of Israel.
* Out of 103 investigations opened in 2012 into alleged offences committed by Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories, not a single indictment served to date
Yesh Din, 3 Feb 2013
* In total, out of an area of 1.6 million dunams in the Jordan Valley, Israel has seized 1.25 million − some 77.5 percent − where Palestinians are forbidden to enter.
Haaretz editorial, 4 Feb 2013


Hamas – Israel’s defence against chaos

hamas security 2014

The IDF claim last month that it had intercepted a ship carrying weapons for Hamas, or another terrorist group in Gaza, received wide publicity – and some scepticism. Now military analysts suspect the destination was more likely to have been a jihadist group in Sinai, which the IDF knew at the time. Hamas has been a force for stability in the region – but it is losing income, allies and power.

Brussels NGO outlawed by Israel as Hamas mouthpiece

It seems that anything other than treating Gaza, the place, its people, its government, as an irredeemable pariah is regarded by Israel’s defence elite as the soft face of terrorism. Thus the Council for European Palestinian Relations, a non-secretive NGO with the aim of organizing visits to the oPt by European policy-makers, has been ‘outlawed’ by Israel’s defence minister making its funds liable to seizure and officers liable to arrest in Israel.

Hamas use of death penalty condemned

As B’Tselem points out when issuing new statistics, the death penalty is not banned under international law. However it is regarded as such an egregiously cruel punishment that it is an absolute requirement on any court which issues this punishment that it is punctilious about due process. Neither the Fatah nor Hamas governments observe this due process. Because Hamas sees itself as in a state of war it condemns ‘collaborators’ to a traitor’s death.

Salafism grows, fear rises

The growth of Salafism causes horror in both Palestine and Israel. This Islamist tendency is now seen as associated with violence and intolerance. It is also understood as a response to the failure of both Hamas and the peaceful PA to secure a Palestinian state. Salafism has no association with nationalism and is against democracy and for a Muslim emirate, not a Palestinian nation.Who Salafi are is a cause of dispute among Muslims.

Fall of Hamas predicted

Hamas has many powerful enemies – aka Hamas has no friends – so that it’s hard to assess the weight of these reports about the Tamarod challenge to Hamas rule in Gaza. Rumours swirl that Tamarod Palestine is a front for Israel or the Egyptian military. There is no evidence that it is, and so far no evidence either that it represents popular discontent in Gaza – although anger amongst the young at stultifying rules of conduct is evident. We will have to wait and see what the planned mass demonstration on November 11 produces.

Palestinians divided over Syria but unite against western intervention

For decades Syria has been a refuge for Palestinans, hosting the Hamas leaders and housing several hundred thousand in camps supported by UNWRA. But since Hamas abandoned Syria and President Assad in 2012 and successive regime attacks on Yarmouk refugee camp, Palestinians tend to have sided with the Syrian rebels in the name of pan-Arab liberation. Now the threat of western intervention has silenced the Palestinian critics of Assad.

‘Palestinians of Gaza pay the price when turmoil reins’

The initial target of the Egyptian clamp-down on crossings and tunnels appeared to be Hamas and terrorist groups, but now seems to have developed into a wider anti-Palestinian – especially in Gaza – drive. Palestinians in Egypt report a high level of hostility towards them and a complete disregard for the effects of denying access to Egypt. Hamas protests its innocence but seems to tolerate the Sinai jihadists.

Hamas the big loser in Egyptian army take-over

Protests by Hamas that they are not involved in Egypt’s internal politics have not appeased the hostility of the army towards them and Palestinians in general. Having consulted with the Israelis in advance, General al-Sisi has made it clear that security is his top concern. The smuggling tunnels have been closed so Hamas has lost both its income and its Muslim Brotherhood ally. The Israel/Egypt security paradigm has won.

Hamas closure media outlets sparks defence of press freedom

Hamas has again tried to shut up journalists in Gaza, this time by closing the offices of several news outlets including Ma’an and al-Arabiya. The news they object to is anything which ‘weakens the resistance’ – this time news of contacts between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and people in Gaza and with Israeli sources of information. Their action has prompted protests from Palestinian journalists and human rights groups.

Hamas campaign in EU to come in from the cold

Tentative and unpublicised moves between EU and Hamas representatives have been proceeding since 2011 when the Arab uprisings threw out the EU’s old chums and officials had to hastily rethink who they had relations with in Arab countries. This was an opening for Hamas who have taken the initiative in try to reverse its label as a ‘terrorist organisation’ which thus prohibits diplomatic relations. The sticking point is Hamas’s refusal to reocognise the state of Israel – although its acceptance of a 2-state solution is a de facto recognition.

Gaza’s underground economy

Israel prevents anything arriving in the Gaza strip by sea or air and allows has just one land crossing. There is a 2nd opening at Rafah, under Egypt’s control.Trade is thus effectively illegal – creating a huge black market in which nappies and headache pills are as likely to be smuggled through the many tunnels from Sinai as weapons and cement. The trade has of course created honest entrepreurs and criminal bosses and done much to make the Sinai a land of lawless gangs. Hence the Israel/Egypt security co-operation (see next posting).

How and why Hamas lost popular support in Egypt

The dramatic loss of the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity in Egypt as well as of its reputation as ex-President Morsi packed state positions with Muslim Brotherhood officials will have an impact on Hamas. Hamas leaders made it clear they expected a close economic and politicial relationship with Morsi’s Egypt. Al Monitor writers say Hamas will pay a price for this. Plus how Egyptians turned against Hamas.

‘We will break free from this mental prison and regain our dignity’

From Gaza Youth Break Out, a fresh and energetic voice, pushing aside the stale declamations and sectarian conflict of their elders. They want, above all, an end to the occupation which deforms the lives of Palestinians and Israelis; they want freedom and dignity and their own voice which Fatah and Hamas deny them. They want support.

Oslo was a process to manage the conflict in interest of US and Israel – jettison it.

Professor Rashid Khalid is not afraid of making enemies – which is fortunate as he has a lot, especially in the US. In this wide ranging interview he speaks sharply of the Palestinians, Saudis, Qataris, the vast settlement-industrial complex and his old friend Obama. And why a peace process based on Begin’s idea of autonomy can’t work. Recorded 18 months ago, it is remarkably fresh – except that then he only fears a civil war in Syria might begin.

Meshaal: ‘our values are democracy, justice, human rights, respect’ – and we will not beg

Last February Khaled Meshaal, political leader of Hamas left Syria to live – via his first, brief, visit to Gaza – in Doha. There, in the Qatari capital, he is interviewed by Foreign Policy magazine. He gives brief explanations on why Hamas left Syria, and his opposition to making any concessions until Israel shows itself ready to end the occupation. It is less revealing than other interviews he has given but is, perhaps, a message to an American audience that he is a human being who believes in democracy and human rights – but is unflinching about the priority of ending the occupation.

Step by step Fatah and Hamas make space for each other

Steps to change, from bottom to top. (5) the PA allows Hamas to hold an anniversary rally in Nablus, Dec. 14; (4) Hamas goes back on an agreement to allow Fatah to hold its celebration in Gaza, Dec.16; (3) Fatah announces it will hold the celebration in Gaza City’s al-Saraya square Dec 28, the venue offered by Hamas. (2) Dec. 31, Fatah celebration begins. (1) Fatah flags fly in Gaza.

Fire first, think later

Gershon Baskin argues that by initiating the recent round of fighting with the assassination of al-Jabari, Israel strengthened the idea of weapons and intransigence over the pragmatism which had been emerging in Hamas – witness Meshaal’s change of tone. He lays out the steps that can be taken for progress.

Hamas celebrates 25 years with rocket and vow to gain all Israeli land

Meshaal makes an inflammatory and celebratory speech at a rally for Hamas’ 25th anniversary vowing Hamas will free every inch of the land from the river to the sea from Israeli control: a challenge to Fatah as well as Israel. Whether the demogoguery was as showy but flimsy as the flags and replica rocket, who knows? UPDATES 2, Observer corrects its wrong translation , 3,4, commentary by Richard Silverstein and Uri Avnery.

Interview with Khaled Meshaal

To coincide with Meshaal’s brief visit to Gaza, we post the first part of an interview he gave to Mouin Rabbani in 2008. He gives an account of his upbringing and the formation of Hamas. It is an idealised version from a deeply religious man who has not lived in Gaza or with the worst aspects of Hamas – the intolerance, antisemitism , lack of due process and reliance on violence over politics. But it is a valuable counterweight to the view that Hamas is nothing but those worst aspects and rules only by terror. Part 2 next week.

Israel, not Hamas, is the region’s pariah

Israel cannot hide forever under its Iron Dome. While its neighbours are changing and growing in confidence Israel is shrinking in political stature as it again opts for hi-tech violence over political thought. Adam Shatz in London Review of Books contrasts the liveliness of Arab politics with the lonely inertia of Israel.