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.
The Oslo accords entrenched the occupation, established an international complacency about 2-state negotiations, and created a new Palestinian elite whose status depends on the false independence of the Palestinian Authority. In his class analysis of the Oslo agreement, Adam Hanieh argues that only if the Palestinians continue to challenge their supine governing class can they regain the vigour of an independence movement.
To Palestinians the resignation of Salam Fayyad is no great loss; he was not involved in any political negotiations and he was blamed for the financial crisis which caused such serious protests last September there was renewed talk of a 3rd intifada. To the West, Fayyad was the man they could do business with and they fear Abbas becoming enclosed in corruption and croneyism.
Tensions over political prisoners were already high because of the hunger strike of Samer Issawi and others. When the death of Arafat Jadarat in prison was announced on Saturday, anger and frustration swept across the oPt, expressed in mass rallies and attendance at Jaradat’s funeral. An autopsy found signs of torture on Jadarat’s body. The PA and Addameer demand an international inquiry; people demand Israel be taken to the ICC. .
The Bab al-Shams encampment in its brief life inspired and enthused people in Palestine and round the world. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad praised the activists saying that “the Palestinian steadfastness make the most important part in resisting the occupation and settlement.” PA personnel including Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi were prevented from reaching the ‘village’. The protesters were removed on the orders of Netanyahu/Civil Administration, but as a form of resistance which does more than say no, the image has taken wing.
The implications of Palestine’s new UN status are examined by two Q&A articles, 1) from the BBC and 2) from ACRI. Apart from enhancing its status in relation to Israel, the main consequence is seen to be the PA’s possible entry into international bodies and agreements, giving the PA new powers as well as responsibilities.
Robert Fisk interviews Uri Avnery, founder of Gush Shalom (whose blogs are often posted here). Avnery retains hope but warns that the dominant Israeli right want conquest, not peace. 2nd, in his latest column he points out that blocking the PA’s peaceful strategy for UN membership, confirms Hamas’ hero status.
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the conservative Justice and Development party, has said he will shortly visit Gaza. This will be the first visit by a head of government of a NATO member. Despite reports of an angry reaction from Fatah, Erdogan says he will invite Pres. Abbas to go with him to Gaza. 3 reports
Dr. Mohsen Salah sets out a 5-point critique of the PLO, including its lack of function and purpose and its exclusive membership. Only overcoming its sectarianism will give it new life. Posted below, a diatribe against the PA and PLO by Khalid Amayreh who, within the hate-speech, makes the same point: Islamic politics must be recognised and represented.
There is no doubting the increase in applications for Israeli citizenship by Arabs living in Jerusalem. The question is why. Here Yehudit Oppenheimer (1st) of Ir Amim argues that it is a survival strategy while Khaled Abu Toameh, 2nd, suggests Israeli citizenship confers more rights than the impotent PA is able to provide.
In the recent Palestinian protests about high prices both President Abbas and PM Fayyad were blamed. But, as these articles from Bloomberg and the Carnegie Middle East Center show, there is little either man can do given dependence on foreign donors, with trade between outside markets and the West Bank and Gaza trip strictly limited by Israeli authorities and internal movement choked in the name of Israel’s security.
The speech by President Abbas to the UNGA on Thursday (see post below) has divided Palestinians; some can’t be bothered with what he has to say, some think he valuably brought Palestine’s predicament and Israel’s aggression to an international audience, some thought it was a demonstration of Palestinians’ lack of power and strategy. A critical article from Doc Jazz is followed by an overview from Ma’an news.
This posting on the West Bank price protests is a very mixed bag, reflecting the restless form and focus of the disturbances. The pieces range from short news items – Abbas will cancel the Oslo accords, Fayyad posts an anti-government song on his Facebook page, to a couple of longer assessments of where the protests will lead. Plus link to a +972 photo essay.
Zakaria Zubeidi, child of a refugee camp, was a member of Al Aqsa Brigade. He decided to renounce violence and co-founded the Freedom Theatre in Jenin with Juliano Mer-Khamis. Mer-Khamis was assassinated in 2011. Last May the PA arrested Zubeidi. He has been held without charge or trial since then. In protest, he began a ‘death fast’ on September 9th, refusing all fluid as well as food. See Action Alert for what you can do.
Joseph Massad advances the argument that the decision of the Palestinians to reject partition was a rational rejection of colonial oppression. Rather, what has been neurotic, in his view, has been the Palestinian compulsion to treat the first rejection as a trauma and so to compulsiveley enact the acceptance of partition in all its institutions and strategies. Yet ‘reversibility is the only successful strategy to end the violence [colonial] projects constantly engender.’
Neither the US nor Quartet will use tools to block Israeli transgressions – or rein in ‘radical factions’ – says former British ambassador Tom Philips in Prospect magazine; Arab states have been no more effective. But the EU, Israel’s greatest trading partner, has many tools it could use to press for change. It should start using them. Jonathan Cook, 1 and Akiva Eldar, 2, comment.
UNESCO’s World Heritage committee has agreed to accept the PA’s request for the Church of the Nativity and Pilgrimage Route in Bethlehem to be accepted, as an emergency, onto the list of sites in danger. This will facilitate rapid restoration work. The PA’s bid was opposed by Israel and the USA, whose spokesman misrepresented the judgment of an expert committee (link to this in post). Haaretz and NY Times.
Archaeology in the Holy Land has long been a hot conflict. Now the PA has put in a bid to UNESCO for the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, to be in need of emergency conservation.The report by advisory body ICOMOS rejects the urgency but fully accepts the unique importance of the Church – but deplores the overcrowding around it. Excerpts from its report; accounts by AFP and JPost seem to be about something else.
After months in which the point and efficacy of the PA have been in question, including by Mahmoud Abbas himself (4), Arab foreign ministers have agreed to fund the PA if Israel witholds the taxes it collects for the PA (1 and 2). This follows Obama’s decision to continue aid to the PA (3) reported in right-wing press as Obama sidesteps Congress to fund terrorists. 5), explainer on the Arab Follow-Up Committee
Fig-leaves for the institutional players, a naked emperor for the wishful thinkers, all metaphors for the ‘peace process’ convey it is not real. The ICG focuses on new forces, like religion, on possible new actors , Palestinian diaspora, settlers, and on agents, like the Quartet, to be discarded.