Category Archives: Articles of Interest

Tension in East Jerusalem- Article by Narciso Machado

The international community still remembers the execution of a young Palestinian man burned alive in retaliation for the murder of three Israelis, creating yet another war between the two people, ending a calm period. But tension has returned to the limelight, now regarding the limitations the Israeli government imposed on Muslims’ access to the Al Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem and annexed unilaterally by Israel in 1967. The Israeli government Placed metal detectors at the entrance to the mosque, prompting protests and generating a wave of violence. The Israeli government, under pressure from the international community, replaced the metal detectors with a TV circuit, also rejected by the Palestinians.

Using its capacity for political and military domination, Israel began, to impose a system of apartheid on Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories, with special emphasis on East Jerusalem. This apartheid is worse than the one that existed in South Africa because of the illegal appropriation of land. The wall separates not only Israelis from Palestinians, but also separates, more seriously, Palestinians from Palestinians.

Given the control of East Jerusalem, under the relative security of the wall surrounding what remains of the West Bank and the thousands of settlers remaining on the eastern side of the wall, protected by a strong occupation device, some Israelis tend to avoid further efforts To seek a peace agreement based on the International Quartet Roadmap or in good faith negotiations with any other basis.

The agreement on the problem of sovereignty over Jerusalem is undoubtedly one of the most difficult negotiating points in history because it has been a city occupied by Jews, Christians and Muslims and is considered holy for all three Religions. It is therefore necessary to go beyond the mythical status of Jerusalem to a rational discussion of rights and sovereignty. To give Jerusalem the status of an international city as, indeed, established the UN at the time of the creation of the State of Israel, would be the most convenient for the world so that all people have free access, enjoying freedom of worship and right to visit and cross holy places without distinction or discrimination. There are those who, sensibly, plead for the Old City of Jerusalem two sovereignties and two flags, but a single joint administration.

Given that these three religions are indirectly involved in this conflict, they should be aware of their ethical and moral responsibility, using their spiritual resources to achieve peace and make it permanent. The apostolic visit that Pope Francis made to the Holy Land on April 24-26, 2014, accompanied by a rabbi and a Muslim dignitary, with visits to Amman, Bethlehem, Televive and Jerusalem, was an excellent initiative in favor of peace. At the time, the Pope said that “it takes more courage to make peace than to make war”, challenging Jews, Christians and Muslims “to leave their walls and to walk the paths of tolerance and dialogue Interreligious “.

The Palestinian people only wish to be recognized by the state that, on 29 November 1947, the UN General Assembly created by dividing Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab State with well-defined borders. The correctness of the position of the Palestinian people is abundantly recognized by international law. Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders is therefore required, as specified in UN Resolution 242, as promised by the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accord and envisaged in the International Quartet Roadmap.

(Translated by: The Diplomatic Mission of Palestine)

A tensão em Jerusalém Oriental

A comunidade internacional ainda está recordada da execução de um jovem palestiniano, queimado vivo por retaliação ao assassinato de três israelitas, gerando, na altura, mais uma guerra entre os dois povos, pondo fim a um período de alguma acalmia. Porém, a tensão voltou novamente à ribalta, agora a propósito das limitações que o governo israelita impôs no acesso dos muçulmanos à mesquita de Al Aqsa, situada em Jerusalem Oriental (Cidade Velha), e anexada unilateralmente por Israel, em 1967. O governo israelita colocou detetores de metais na entrada da Mesquita, motivando protestos e gerando uma onda de violência. O governo de Israel, mediante pressão da comunidade internacional, substituiu os detectores de metais por um circuito de TV, também rejeitado pelos palestinianos.

Utilizando a sua capacidade de domínio político e militar, Israel começou, paulativamente, a impor um sistema de encapsulação e de apartheid aos cidadãos muçulmanos e cristãos dos territórios ocupados, com especial relevo para Jerusalém Oriental. Este apartheid é pior do que aquele que existiu na África do Sul por se tratar de apropriação ilícita de terras. O muro separa não só israelitas de palestinianos, mas separa também, o que é mais grave, palestinianos de palestinianos.

Perante o controlo de Jerusalém Oriental, sob a segurança relativa do muro que rodeia o que resta da Margem Ocidental e os milhares de colonos que se mantêm do lado oriental do muro, protegidos por um forte dispositivo de ocupação, alguns israelitas tendem a evitar novos esforços para procurar um acordo de paz, baseado no Roteiro do Quarteto Internacional ou em negociações de boa-fé com qualquer outra base.

O acordo relativamente ao problema da soberania sobre Jerusalém é, sem dúvida, um dos pontos das negociações mais difíceis de alcançar, em virtude de, através da história, ter sido uma cidade ocupada por judeus, cristãos e muçulmanos e ser considerada santa para as três religiões. Importa, pois, ultrapassar o estatuto mítico de Jerusalém para uma discussão racional sobre direitos e sobre a soberania. Dar a Jerusalém o estatuto de cidade internacional como, aliás, estabeleceu a ONU aquando da criação do Estado de Israel, seria o mais conveniente à comunidade mundial, por forma a que todos os povos tenham livre acesso, usufruindo da liberdade de culto e do direito a visitar e atravessar os lugares santos, sem distinção ou discriminação. Há quem, sensatamente, defenda para a Cidade Velha de Jerusalém duas soberanias e duas bandeiras, mas uma única administração conjunta.

Atendendo a que estas três religiões estão indirectamente envolvidas nesta conflito, deviam estar cientes da sua responsabilidade ética e moral, usando os seus recursos espirituais para alcançar a paz e torná-la permanente. A visita apostólica que o Papa Francisco fez à Terra Santa, nos dias 24-26 de Abril de 2014, acompanhado de um rabino e de um dignitário muçulmano, com passagens por Amâ, Belém, Televive e Jerusalém, foi uma excelente iniciativa a favor da paz. Recorde-se que, na altura, o Papa afirmou que “é preciso mais coragem para fazer a paz do que fazer a guerra”, desafiando judeus, cristãos e muçulmanos “a saírem dos seus muros e a percorrerem os caminhos da tolerância e do diálogo inter-religioso”.

O povo Palestiniano apenas pretende que lhes seja reconhecido o Estado que, a 29 de Novembro de 1947, a Assembleia Geral da ONU criou, ao dividir a Palestina num Estado judaico e um Estado árabe, com fronteiras bem definidas. A justeza da posição do povo palestiniano é abundantemente reconhecida pelo direito internacional. Impõe-se, portanto, a retirada de Israel para as fronteiras de 1967, como se encontra especificado na Resolução 242 da ONU, prometida pelos Acordos de Camp David e pelo Acordo de Oslo e prevista no Roteiro do Quarteto Internacional.

https://www.publico.pt/2017/07/28/mundo/noticia/a-tensao-em-jerusalem-oriental-1780590
 

 

MPPM CONDEMNS ACTION BY THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL IN THE CASE OF THE REPORT THAT DENOUNCE POLITICS OF APARTHEID OF ISRAEL

 

The MPPM notes with concern the role played by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, in the process leading to the resignation of Rima Khalaf from the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

The succession of events deserves to be briefly mentioned. On Wednesday, 15 March, ESCWA published a landmark document accusing Israel of apartheid, in a report concluding that “Israel has established an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole.”

The authors of the report – Virginia Tilley and Richard Falk, both experts in international law – “aware of the seriousness of this allegation, the authors of the report conclude that available evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid as legally defined in instruments of international law,”. The report “is based on the same body of international human rights law and principles that reject anti-Semitism and other racially discriminatory ideologies, including the United Nations Charter (1945), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the International Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) ‘and’ is based on its definition of apartheid, in particular Article II of the International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973) ‘. The authors of the report emphasize that ‘although the term’ apartheid ‘was originally associated with the specific case of South Africa, it now represents a kind of crime against humanity under customary international law and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court’ Adding that ‘this report reflects the consensus of experts that the ban on apartheid is universally applicable and has not been made irrelevant by the collapse of apartheid in South Africa and South-West Africa (Namibia)’.

The report highlighted in particular Israel’s discriminatory land policies enshrined in the country’s Basic Law (the equivalent of the constitution). ESKWA also mentions some of the Israeli policies of “demographic engineering”: the granting to all Jews anywhere in the world of the right to obtain Israeli citizenship while preventing the entry of millions of Palestinians with documented ancestral ties to the land where the State of Israel was created in 1948; Preventing family reunification of Palestinian citizens of Israel married to Palestinians from the occupied territories; The maintenance of segregated communities within Israel, with an extremely uneven distribution of resources. The report also underlines the fundamental importance of the different Israeli legal codes that apply to Palestinians within Israel, Occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, surrounded as “the main method by which Israel imposes an apartheid regime”.

The publication of the report was immediately the subject of fierce criticism from Israel and the United States, which urged the Secretary-General, António Guterres, to formally depart from the content of the report and demand it to be removed from the official website of the United Nations United. On that same day, in a statement by the Secretary-General’s spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, António Guterres made public his distancing.

According to statements made by Rima Khalaf, António Guterres asked her on 16 March to withdraw the report and, despite his request to reconsider it, Guterres insisted that he resigned. And indeed, on 17 March, the report was no longer available on the ESCWA website. The Secretary-General’s decision was hailed by Israel’s ambassadors Danny Danon and the United States, Nikki Haley, as well as the Zionist lobbying organizations in the United States.

MPPM condemn action in this case by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, awarding the country that has violated UN resolutions, Israel, to the detriment of the martyred Palestinian people, for whom the UN has a heavy and irrevocable historical debt. We must not forget that seven decades ago the UN decided to share the historic territory of Palestine, promising the creation of two states. But while one of these states, Israel, has existed for 68 years, the Palestinian people continue to wait for the UN General Assembly’s promise to it and which has been successively renewed through numerous Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that Israel Challenges daily.

MPPM praises Rima Khalaf’s upright position and considers António Guterres’s decision yielding to pressure from Israel and the United States of America – at a time when the latter is discussing cuts to the financial contribution to the UN budget – As seriously detrimental to the prestige, independence and the very raison d’être of the United Nations. On this occasion, it is worth remembering that in October 2016, at the election of António Guterres, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon expressed his hope that with the new Secretary General, the UN would abandon its “obsession with Israel” . The position taken by António Guterres, confirming the fears aroused by that statement by the representative of Israel, sets a serious precedent that fears the worst about the future unfolding of his mandate.

MPPM reiterates on this occasion the votes it made in its letter to António Guterres on the occasion of the beginning of his term as Secretary-General of the United Nations: that this is the mandate in which the United Nations will pay off the historic debt they owe to the people Of Palestine. Only by reviewing the attitude he has taken and adopting a position in line with UN resolutions, António Guterres will defend the authority and prestige of the organization he runs, and may favour a fair solution to the cause of the Palestinian people. Only then can the UN contribute to peace throughout the Middle East and the world.

Lisbon, March 22, 2017

The MPPM National Board

 

Shimon Peres: The Peacemaker Who Wasn’t

New York Times

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Now that the funeral of Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and prime minister, is over and the effusive praise of world leaders has subsided, it’s time for a critical look at his legacy. While many remember him as a courageous and tireless advocate for peace, Palestinians recall a different man — one who was very good at talking peace but not so good at walking the walk.

Much of Mr. Peres’s reputation is based on his role in the Oslo Accords. In the early 1990s, he was involved in back-channel discussions that led to the historic signing of Oslo I, also known as the Declaration of Principles, by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization amid much fanfare on the White House lawn. In 1994, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

It was during this period that I first met Mr. Peres, after I helped to initiate contact between Israel and the P.L.O., along with the Israeli academics Ron Pundak and Yair Hirschfeld. As foreign minister in Mr. Rabin’s government, Mr. Peres followed up on these secret meetings, leading to Israel’s agreeing — for the first time — to negotiate with the P.L.O.

Back then, Palestinians were optimistic about a future free of Israel’s dominance. We hoped that Mr. Peres and other Israeli leaders would follow up their statements in support of peace with determined action to reach a just and lasting agreement to end the conflict. As it turned out, there was little correlation between their lofty rhetoric and their actual policies.

The promise of the Oslo peace process was never fulfilled, in large part because of the failures of Mr. Peres and the “peace camp” in Israel, but also thanks to the flaws in the Declaration of Principles itself. Because the declaration enabled Israel to act with impunity over destructive unilateral measures like settlement expansion— given the lack of will on the part of the United States to hold Israel to account — it was inevitable that a culture of hate and racism against the Palestinians would ensue.

During the negotiations of the accord, discussion of core issues — such as borders and settlements, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem — was postponed in favor of a gradual approach without any guarantees, arbitration process or accountability, giving Israel a free hand to prejudge the outcome. Oslo developed into a process for the sake of a process, rather than a means to end the conflict.

Mr. Peres once told me that engaging in peace talks is like being an airplane pilot. The pilot’s mother wants him to fly low and slow, but that’s a recipe for disaster. In order to make peace, you need to fly high and fast, otherwise you will crash and fail. Unfortunately, Mr. Peres did not take his own advice.

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Crucially, Israel persisted in building settlements on occupied land that was supposed to be part of a Palestinian state, and even expanded the program. Under Mr. Peres’s tenure as foreign minister, defense minister and prime minister during the early days of the Oslo process in the 1990s, Israel continued to create facts on the ground that undermined the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state alongside Israel, which Palestinians believed was the aim of the peace process.

In the case of Jerusalem, in 1993 Mr. Peres promised me and the Palestinian politician Faisal Husseini that Israel would respect the integrity of Palestinian institutions in occupied East Jerusalem and allow them to remain open. He went so far as to send a letter to Norway’s foreign minister, Johan Holst, with his assurances. Yet when Israel shut down the P.L.O.’s Jerusalem headquarters, the Orient House, and other major Palestinian institutions in 2001, Mr. Peres, who was once again foreign minister, this time under the hard-liner Ariel Sharon, did nothing.

As the world turned its attention to other conflicts, thinking the Oslo process would lead to peace, Palestinians saw Israel’s occupation become more entrenched, rather than being dismantled. In addition to accelerating settlement growth, under Mr. Peres’s direction, Israel imposed new restrictions on Palestinians and their freedom of movement. After seven years of negotiations, during which the situation of Palestinians deteriorated steadily, growing disillusionment and despair that Israel was using the peace process as cover to steal more Palestinian land led to the outbreak of the second intifada.

While Palestinians certainly made mistakes, Israel, as the stronger and occupying power, held most of the cards during the Oslo process. This imbalance was worsened by the American mediators, who frequently acted more like “Israel’s lawyer,” as one of them later wrote, than fair and neutral referees.

Finally, the Oslo process failed because Mr. Peres and other Israeli leaders never fully accepted the concept of a truly independent state alongside Israel. Rather than a dismantling of the occupation and an evolution of Palestinian independence as initially envisioned, successive Israeli governments ended up undermining Palestinian statehood and reinventing the occupation as an unaccountable system of control and expansion.

If Mr. Peres had acted swiftly and decisively in pursuit of peace upon assuming power after the 1995 assassination of Mr. Rabin by an Israeli extremist opposed to Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories, Oslo might have been salvaged. Instead, he attempted to compete with the right-wing Likud Party on its terms. This culminated in the Qana massacre, when Lebanese civilians sheltering in a United Nations compound were shelled by Israeli artillery, during the bloody attack on Lebanon that he ordered shortly before the 1996 election. As a result, many in Israel who genuinely supported peace lost faith in Mr. Peres, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, and he lost the election.

Of course, Palestinians’ faith in Mr. Peres had been tested before. Not forgotten by Palestinians and others in the region is the role that he played arming the Israeli forces that expelled some 750,000 Palestinians during the establishment of Israel in 1948; the regional nuclear arms race he incited by initiating Israel’s secret atomic weapons program in the 1950s and ’60s; his responsibility for establishing some of the first Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the ’70s; his public discourse as a minister in Likud-led coalitions, justifying Israeli violations of Palestinian rights and extremist ideology; and his final role in Israeli politics as president, serving as a fig leaf for the radically pro-settler government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Indeed, it was Mr. Netanyahu’s rise to prime minister in 1996 that torpedoed any lingering hopes for peace. A few years later, he would be caught on video boasting to a group of settlers that he had “de facto put an end to the Oslo Accords.”

After the collapse of the Oslo process and the ensuing violence, the dual myths of the “generous offer” made to Mr. Arafat at Camp David and the claim that there was no Palestinian partner for peace took hold in Israel. This narrative helped fuel a rising tide of right-wing extremism that continues to this day. Mr. Peres himself helped to perpetuate these myths as foreign minister under Mr. Sharon, doing tremendous damage to subsequent efforts to restart negotiations.

Over the past decade, the Labor Party that Mr. Peres once led has become all but irrelevant as a diluted version of the Likud. At the same time, Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line, rejectionist Likud and even more extreme parties have come to dominate Israeli politics, generating a toxic mix of racism, religious messianism and hyper-nationalism.

It’s true that compared with Mr. Netanyahu and other contemporary Israeli politicians, Mr. Peres was a dove, but that’s saying very little. In order to truly measure the man, he must be judged on his actions, not his words and reputation — nor, indeed, in comparison to the dangerous right-wing fanatics who now make up Israel’s government.

Regardless of the flaws in the process, the pursuit of peace remains a noble endeavor. But Mr. Peres’s failure to translate lofty ideals into action continues to haunt that elusive quest in Palestine and Israel.

Saeb Erekat: Paris Peace Summit Will Equalize Power Between Israel and Palestine

Secretary General: 20 years of bilateral negotiations have failed. The international community must compel Israel to accept its responsibility as the occupying force and implement the two-state solution.

Saeb Erekat

With the 50th anniversary of Israel’s military and colonial occupation of Palestine coming to a head, we have reached a critical juncture within the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. For over 20 years, bilateral negotiations between Israel and Palestine failed on account of Israeli intransigence over its refusal to recognize Palestinian national rights and the continuation and expansion of its settlement enterprise.

In fact, the number of Israeli settlers transferred into occupied Palestine has nearly quadrupled since the beginning of the “peace process,” yet Israel continues to enjoy impunity and is not held accountable. It is now critical to move from an imbalanced bilateral track between an occupied and occupier refusing to uphold basic principles of international law, to a broader framework whereby the international community assumes its responsibility to implement international law and see the realization of the two-state solution through sustained and effective engagement.

The French Initiative is the flicker of hope Palestine has been waiting for and we are confident that it will provide a clear framework with defined parameters for the resumption of negotiations. The international conference should be viewed as an opportunity to create a negotiating environment in which power is equalized and law and human rights prevail. The conference should not concern itself with how to grant impunity for Israeli violations but rather, with how to respect and uphold the principles of the UN Charter and of peace-loving, law abiding nations.

Palestine seeks the same rights and responsibilities enjoyed by other states, and accordingly, any negotiations and permanent status agreement should reflect that. Specifically, the conference must embody the basic principle of sovereign equality, and focus on the implementation and the materialization of Palestinian independence on the ground within a clear framework and timeline. Although a ray of hope, we are under no illusions that this conference will miraculously result in the immediate end of Israel’s settler-colonialism. Rather, we see this conference as a long overdue commitment by the international community to compel Israel to accept its responsibility as the occupying force and recognize that the way forward is to implement the two-state solution before it’s too late.

This means that Israel freezes all illegal settlement activity in Palestine, that Palestine must have control over its borders, East Jerusalem is and remains the capital of the Palestinian state, sovereignty is divided along the 1967 border, Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem are reopened and able to operate freely, our refugees scattered worldwide are treated with respect and in accordance with international law and UNGA Resolution 194, and Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons are released.

We support the French Initiative with the aim of securing our freedom from belligerent Israeli occupation, and thus independence for the State of Palestine, including its capital East Jerusalem. The solution to our colonial problem is not to reshape the Israeli occupation but to end it. Nothing short of full Palestinian sovereignty, with no Israeli interference inside the independent State of Palestine, will bring the just and lasting peace that we seek.

We envision a future where two sovereign and democratic states can live side by side in cooperation, peace and security – two states that will provide equal rights for all their citizens without discrimination. We call upon the conference to provide a clear path toward this goal.

This path should be clear and unambiguous whereby both parties are required to fulfill their obligations emanating from past agreements. The implementation of past agreements will serve as a means toward confidence building between both sides and will prepare the ground for social and political acceptance on both sides for a two-state solution. The international community of states should make it clear that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot linger any longer and should not be a source of instability in a region that is already unstable. The fact of the matter is that the parameters of a permanent and final status agreement between both parties are well known.

It is the responsibility of the world to ensure that Israel may not continue to deny a people of its most fundamental and precious rights, including the right to be free. Let us make next year an anniversary to celebrate, rather than mark yet another anniversary of collective international failure to place Palestine firmly on the map and for peace to reign.

Dr. Saeb Erekat is the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Article published in: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.722924

Cyprus, Greece and Palestine

Nabeel Shaath

-Nabeel Shaath served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine from 1994 until 2005.

 

Built on common experience, long-term interests and moral principles, Palestine’s relationship with both Cyprus and Greece goes back a long way. Short-term economic gains should not be allowed to damage these deep and precious friendships.

Over the last 70 years, the relationship of Cyprus and Palestine was that of close friendship and political alliance. Both were former British colonies and both suffered from British manipulations, leaving behind two divided homelands. The struggle of the Cypriots to liberate and unite their land found close allies in the Arab World, particularly in Egypt. President Nasser of Egypt and Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus stood side by side in the struggle against British occupation. For the Palestinians, these two leaders were natural allies in their struggle for freedom and independence. Egypt, Cyprus and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) joined the Non Aligned Movement (NAM).

I remember my first trip to Nicosia in 1965. It reminded me of my hometown of Jaffa. The fragrance of Jasmine and orange blossom, and the colourful flowers, brought back all the memories of the home I lost when Israel was created in 1948; the year that I and the majority of my people became refugees.

As Palestinians, we stood against the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus. I remember, in my capacity as Foreign minister of Palestine (1994-2005), my instructions were very clear: to stand by the legitimate government of Cyprus, and to stand against any recognition of a separatist state in the North of Cyprus, particularly within the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), where we had some moral and political influence.

 

The friendship was mutual. Cyprus recognized the State of Palestine in 1988, and supported our struggle for independence and our pursuit of peace. Palestine supported Cyprus in its pursuit of independence, territorial integrity, and unity.

We Palestinians have traditionally had an equally strong relationship with Greece. Part of our ancestral origin can be traced back to the Greek island of Crete. We raise the Greek flag on all our Orthodox churches, to which most of our Christians belong. We will never forget the welcome party in Athens, in 1982, after 88 days of Israeli bombardment and siege of Beirut, killing thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese people. Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou led the party that met our historic leader, Yasser Arafat, on his arrival.

As Foreign Minister, I worked very hard to support Greece in the Arab and Muslim world, both economically and politically. The close bond shared between Andreas Papandreou and Yasser Arafat, and between me and his son George, reflected a long friendship between Palestine and Greece. And that relationship, like our relationship with Cyprus, was not limited to a particular political party. It was a friendship among peoples: Greeks, Cypriots, and Palestinians.

As Greece and Cyprus joined the EU, they became two of our closest allies within the EU, supporting our quest for a peaceful political solution, and standing by us when Israel violated its commitments, whether by continuing to expropriate land and water, destroying the Gaza Strip, or denying us the State we had accepted on 22% of our homeland. Our Greek and Cypriot allies stood by the principles and commitments that brought us together for 70 years.

Lately, and regrettably, these relationships have begun to change.

One understands the importance of economic and political interests in the formation and shifts of political alliances. Today, Cyprus, Greece and Israel are linked by certain issues, including natural gas, oil, geopolitical influences, and financial crises.

We understand. But, such connections are not unique to Greece and Cyprus. Several other countries such as Russia, China, India and the EU countries have developed important economic relations with Israel. Some of them were also historical allies to the Arab World and to Palestine. At one time we felt that their closeness to both Palestine and Israel may be an advantage in supporting the Peace Process between us.

However, short-term changes in economic interests and political positions do not change important facts, such as who is the occupier and who is the occupied in the Holy Land, and which of the two countries is being warned against becoming an apartheid state by even its closest allies. Nor should it change power assessments, such as who has extensive military and nuclear capabilities, or whose income is 40 times that of the other. And finally, one should not forget who has remained committed to the peace agreements, and who has violated those agreements. Changes in economic interests do not change international law, or the sanctity of justice and human rights.

China, France, Brazil, and Russia have common economic and political interests with Israel, but their position on the rights of the Palestinians, and on the necessity of ending the Israeli occupation, has not changed. In fact, as Israel continues to violate international law, UN resolutions, and signed agreements, these powers have become more ready to condemn Israeli actions against the Palestinians, and apply sanctions against Israel.

We were given assurances by the leaders of Cyprus and Greece that their closer relationship with Israel would not change their commitments to Palestine, nor would it adversely affect their historical relationship with Palestine or the Arab and Muslim world. The Prime Minister of Greece and the President of Cyprus both recently visited Palestine and Israel. Both of them made statements in Palestine reaffirming these historical positions. President Abbas was invited to attend the voting in the Greek Parliament which unanimously recommended that the Greek government should recognize the State of Palestine. The explanation was very clear: Parliament members of all the Greek parties, representing all of the Greek people, support Palestine, and the right of the Palestinians.

In the light of the above, it is very difficult to explain some of the recent words and actions of leaders of these two countries.

On the 12th of January, 2016, Mr. Averof Neophytou, the Head of DICY the Cypriot Governing Center-Right Party, and Chairman of the European and Foreign Affairs Committee of the Cypriot House of Representatives visited Israel and was quoted as saying:

“Cyprus no longer sees Israel as an aggressive country imposing its will by force on the Palestinians, but rather as a small nation fighting for survival in the face of much greater odds.”

He told the Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, that over the last decade his country which had once, alongside Greece, been among the most critical of Israel in Europe, now had a “clearer picture” of Israel.

“It is a country of eight million fighting a struggle for survival and having to face hundreds of millions of Muslims and Arabs, part of who don’t even recognize the right of the existence of a Jewish state… So which side is strong, and which side is weak? Which side is fighting for survival?”

We were glad to see that the Cypriot Opposition party (AKEL) responded immediately:

“The President of DISY party must realize that it is one thing to seek to develop mutually beneficial relations of cooperation with all the countries in our neighborhood, including Israel, something moreover that was promoted correctly during the period of the previous government, and it’s quite another thing to distort history and reality…”

Although there was an immediate response within Cyprus to the Neophytou statement, the fact that such a statement was even made, and so far not retracted, is worrying.

What is even more worrying is the apparently total change in the position of Greece and Cyprus in terms of the voting patterns and lobbying activities of their representatives within the EU. On the 17th of January this year, the Greek Foreign Minister almost succeeded in torpedoing the Conclusions of the latest meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, by insisting on the Israeli version in several key resolutions. Statements attributed to Greek leaders, announcing their refusal to implement the EU directive on the labeling of settlement products, were shocking, but they were corrected eventually. Greek statements supporting the Israeli claim that the whole of Jerusalem was the historical capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people, completely ignoring Palestinian rights to Jerusalem, were even more shocking, and remain uncorrected.

The Palestinian people expect a correction and an explanation. We do not want to abandon our friendship with Greece or Cyprus, nor do we want to see a shift away from the strategic relationships that link these two neighboring countries to the Arab and Muslim world. I am sure the majority of the Greek and Cypriot people share my feelings about our relationship. We are loyal to this heritage, and we do not change our moral commitments and principles for a temporary shift in economic interests. We do not object to Greece or Cyprus pursuing their mutual economic interests with Israel, but we call on them to remain committed to their long-term friendship and commitment to our shared principles. In the long run, these principles are the cornerstones upon which peace, stability, security, and economic prosperity are built, not only in the Eastern Mediterranean, but in the whole world.

January 22, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MPPM SAÚDA A CONSTITUIÇÃO DA REPÚBLICA NO SEU 40º ANIVERSÁRIO

Há 40 anos, em 2 de Abril de 1976, foi aprovada pela Assembleia Constituinte e promulgada pelo Presidente da República a Constituição da República Portuguesa. Nela ficaram plasmadas as profundas aspirações do povo português que tinham sido reprimidas durante a ditadura: os valores da liberdade, da democracia, da justiça social, da independência nacional, da paz, da solidariedade. Nela ficou também estabelecida uma nova visão de relações internacionais que permitiu que Portugal se reconciliasse com o mundo.

O MPPM (Movimento pelos Direitos do Povo Palestino e pela Paz) assinala esse momento nuclear no processo democrático português com uma declaração da sua Direcção Nacional, a Missão diplomática da Palestina divulga este documento:

Há 40 anos, em 2 de Abril de 1976, foi aprovada pela Assembleia Constituinte e promulgada pelo Presidente da República a Constituição da República Portuguesa. Nela ficaram plasmadas as profundas aspirações do povo português que tinham sido reprimidas durante a ditadura: os valores da liberdade, da democracia, da justiça social, da independência nacional, da paz, da solidariedade.
A liberdade de dizer não à guerra e sim à paz e à solidariedade, o respeito pelos direitos dos povos, nomeadamente, à independência e soberania, a rejeição de qualquer forma de colonialismo e imperialismo, a adopção das normas do direito e de convenções internacionais, são liberdades e princípios expressos na Constituição, nomeadamente nos seus arts. 7º e 8º. Com estes princípios Portugal abriu-se e conciliou-se com o mundo.
Portugal, país colonizador, vivia em estado de guerra e levava a guerra aos povos das colónias. Expressar os ideais de paz e solidariedade era proibido. Não obstante, eles existiam e foram gritados bem alto no 25 de Abril e consagrados na Constituição. Esses bens maiores, direito e aspiração da humanidade, estão bem claros na Constituição e integram a essência da Carta das Nações Unidas, da Acta Final de Helsínquia e a Declaração Universal dos Direitos Humanos que Portugal assumiu após o 25 de Abril.
O 25 de Abril, ao consagrar na Constituição a liberdade de expressão e de informação e a liberdade de associação, abriu as portas à existência legal de organizações da sociedade civil, nomeadamente de movimentos pela paz e de solidariedade com outros povos.
Os objectivos do MPPM, que reflectem os sentimentos do povo português, estão assim em acordo e defendidos na Constituição.
Só a autodeterminação do povo palestino permitirá alcançar a paz na Palestina e até em todo o Médio Oriente.
O direito do povo palestino a uma pátria independente, livre e soberana, com fronteiras definidas e capital em Jerusalém Leste, está consignado em acordos internacionais, afirmado em Resoluções da ONU e suportado pela opinião pública internacional. O Estado da Palestina foi reconhecido por 136 Estados membros das Nações Unidas e pela Santa Sé.
A Constituição da República Portuguesa que diz que Portugal se “rege nas relações internacionais pelos princípios da independência nacional, do respeito dos direitos do homem, dos direitos dos povos”, e que salvaguarda o direito dos portugueses ao trabalho com segurança ao ensino, à saúde, à identidade nacional, à igualdade, à justiça, é uma Constituição progressista e humanista, que conduz, no cumprimento da sua letra e espírito, à defesa dos inalienáveis direitos do povo palestino.
Por tudo isto, o MPPM, regozija-se em assinalar o 40º aniversário da promulgação da Constituição da República Portuguesa e associa-se à celebração da efeméride, porque evocá-la e comemorá-la é também defendê-la.

Lisboa, 2 de Abril de 2016
A Direcção Nacional do MPPM

The Palestinian People Ask: Where Is Israel’s F.W. de Klerk?

If a two-state solution fades away, Israel will consolidate apartheid across all of Palestine.

Op-Ed by Dr. Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization,  published in Wall Street Journal, on November 7th, 2015.

 

 The only way to stop the deteriorating situation in Israel and occupied Palestine is to address the root causes. Israeli leaders, however, stubbornly reject this approach, instead choosing to blame, attack and incite against the people they oppress for refusing to submit to inhumane discriminatory treatment decade after decade.

Years of systematic violation of Palestinian rights, allowed by an unprecedented culture of impunity, have led to a situation whereby an unarmed, and very young, generation is willing to confront the region’s strongest military.

 This young Palestinian generation, the Oslo generation, was promised freedom when the agreement was signed on the White House lawn 22 years ago. This generation was raised with the hope that the brutal Israeli occupation would soon come to an end. But it did not. The Palestinian people continue to endure humiliation; they cannot travel freely, their studies and work are impeded by checkpoints, and they cannot even marry across the Green Line without severe restrictions on where they may live. At every turn, Israel continues to demand our submission to its occupation, oppression and apartheid policies.

 With U.S. involvement, the peace process was shaped—we thought—as a peaceful tool to take Palestinians from occupation to independence. Nevertheless, more than two decades after signing the Oslo Agreement, Palestinians today have seen the number of settlers living illegally in Palestine triple, Gaza has become an open-air prison, and East Jerusalem is besieged and off-limits to most Palestinians.

Despite 48 years of international statements on the illegality of Israel’s colonialist enterprise in occupied Palestine, no meaningful action has been taken to stop Israel. On the contrary, consecutive Israeli governments have continued violating international law with full impunity, while international trade with Israel continues to grow, including with Israeli settlements.

Today, the most extremist right-wing government in its history governs Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party retained its hold on power in a March election, after a campaign in which he said if he were elected there would be no Palestinian State and that “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves,” referring in racist terms to his own Palestinian citizens. In 2013, Naftali Bennett, an Israeli army veteran and Mr. Netanyahu’s minister of education, said: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life, and there’s no problem with that.” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has repeatedly said she opposes a Palestinian state and that occupation will continue.

 Recently the Israeli prime minister even went so far as to claim that the Nazi Holocaust was inspired by a Palestinian leader. Mr. Netanyahu last week retracted the outrageous accusation, but his original statement showed us the mind of someone who aspires to delegitimize the Palestinians and to deny their aspirations to live in freedom and dignity. He and several of his cabinet members have a history of using dangerous words that incite violence against Palestinians. In July Israeli terrorists set a Palestinian home on fire in the Duma village; the Dawabsheh family—18-month-old Ali, his father, Sa’ad, and mother, Riham—were burned alive. Only 4-year-old Ahmad survived.

 In his Sept. 30 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of the dangers of the current status quo. He also denounced Israel’s violation of commitments made in signed agreements and international law. President Abbas said he would back away from the Oslo deal if Israel continues to violate it. He did not back away from his commitment to achieve peace, to which he has devoted much of his life.

 Painfully, the Palestinian Oslo generation has reached its limit, disgusted with a peace process that did not lead to freedom, but to an apartheid reality accepted by too much of the world.

 As I watch this play out before me, and prepare to hand the reins of leadership to my children’s generation, I cannot help but wonder whether the Israeli people are capable of electing a leadership committed to a just peace. Where is their F.W. de Klerk? Israel seems prepared only to let the opportunity for a two-state peace slip away.

 If the possibility of a two-state solution does fade away—as is already happening courtesy of Mr. Netanyahu—Israel will consolidate apartheid across all of Palestine, pushing the achievement of Palestinian freedom, independence and equal rights beyond the horizon.

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-palestinian-people-ask-where-is-israels-f-w-de-klerk-1446851996?cb=logged0.573951393166866

For the sins of occupation, boycotts are a light punishment

By: Gideon Levy
Haaretz, 07.06.2015

Orange or SodaStream, academic or artistic boycott, the penalties will grow worse the longer Israel persists in settling, exploiting and stealing Palestinian land.

What are you defending? What are you fighting for? Over what are Israelis entrenching themselves now, with the assaults of the nationalist politicians and the populist media fulminating against the world. Why are they patriotically covering up the orange flags of Orange with the blue-and-white national flag? Has anybody asked why? Why is the boycott starting to gnaw at Israel now, and is this all worth it?
As usual, there are questions that are not even asked. Soul-searching, after all, is a clear sign of weakness. And so an explanation has been invented that absolves us of responsibility: The boycott fell out of the sky, an unavoidable force majeure of Israel hatred, and the only way to fight it is to fight right back at them. Israel always has an abundance of fitting (and sometimes violent) Zionist responses, but it’s always about the outcome, never about the reasons. That’s how was with terror, that’s how it was with the position of the world that Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog, of all Israeli ultranationalists, rushed to label with the ridiculous name “terror of a new kind” (referring to the statements by Orange SA CEO Stephane Richard). Never give in. That’s fine, but why? We are fighting the boycott, but why did it break out?
Israel is now defending the preservation of the status quo. It is fighting against the whole world to preserve its advanced school of brutality and cruelty, in which it is educating generations of young people to act brutishly toward human beings, old people and children, to tyrannize them, to bark at them, to crush and humiliate them, only because they are Palestinians.
Israel is defending the continuation of apartheid in the occupied territories, in which two peoples live, one of them without any rights. It is defending its entire system of justification for this — a combination of Bible stories, messianism and victimhood, accompanied by lies. It is defending “united Jerusalem,” which is nothing but a territorial monster where separation also exists. It is fighting for its right to destroy the Gaza Strip for as long as it cares to do so, to maintain it as a ghetto and to be the warden of the biggest prison in the world.
The Israelis are fighting for their right to persist in settling, exploiting and stealing land; to continue breaking international law that prohibits settlement, to continue to thumb its nose at the whole world, which does not recognize any settlements. They are now defending their right to shoot children who throw stones and helpless fishermen pursuing the crumbs of a livelihood in the sea off the coast of Gaza, their right to continue snatching people from their beds in the middle of the night in the West Bank; they are fighting for the right to detain hundreds of people without trial, to hold political prisoners, to abuse them.
That is what they are protecting, that is what they are fighting for — for an area that most of them have not been to for years, and don’t care what happens there, for conduct that is shameful even to some of them. These are the sins and this is the punishment. Does anyone think that Israel can go on without being punished? Without being ostracized? And to tell the truth, doesn’t Israel deserve to be punished? Hasn’t the world been unbelievably tolerant so far?
Orange or SodaStream, academic boycott or artistic boycott, these are light punishments. The penalties will grow worse the longer Israel avoids drawing the necessary conclusions. As opposed to attempts by Israel and the Jewish establishment to divert the discussion, at its heart is not anti-Semitism. At its heart is the occupation. That is the source of the delegitimization.
The nation can fight against the position of the whole world. It can stand up for its rights (which are not its rights) and think that it is fighting for its survival. But do the Israelis know what they are defending now? What they are not willing to surrender? Is all this worth it to them? That discussion has not even begun here.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.659952

Israel’s Charade of Democracy

By: Hagai El-ad
The New York Times, 31.05.2015

Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories is nearing the half-century mark, and Israel’s new right-wing government offers little hope of ending it. Nevertheless, the new government promises something else of value: clarity. And with that clarity, the opportunity to challenge the prolonged lie of the occupation’s “temporary” status. For if the occupation has become permanent in all but its name, what about the voting rights of Palestinians?

Two months ago, on election day in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that Israel’s Arab citizens were flocking to the polls “in droves”— a clear effort to cast the voting of one-fifth of Israel’s citizens as a danger to be counteracted. That undermined basic democratic principles, but it paled in contrast to the status of the Palestinian population living next door in territories under direct or indirect Israeli rule. They have no say at all in choosing the government of the occupying power that is in ultimate command of their fate.

If you look at all the land Israel controls between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, that area contains some 8.3 million Israelis and Palestinians of voting age. Roughly 30 percent — about 2.5 million — are Palestinians living outside Israel under varying degrees of Israeli control — in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They have some ability to elect Palestinian bodies with limited functions. But they are powerless to choose Israeli officials, who make the weightiest decisions affecting them.

International humanitarian law does not grant a people living under temporary military occupation the right to vote for the institutions of the occupying power. But “temporary” is the operative word. Military occupations are meant to have an end. And common sense says half a century is not “temporary.”

Nevertheless, that is the basis for denying Palestinians their political rights: Their status is temporary, we are told, until a political agreement with Israel allows them to vote for sovereign Palestinian institutions. Now the chances of that happening are more clear. On the eve of elections, Mr. Netanyahu promised that there would be no Palestinian state while he is in office.

Does that mean nobody in the occupied territories has a meaningful vote? No. In fact, some people do: Israeli settlers.

in August 1970, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, discussed amending the Knesset Election Law, which stipulated that Israelis — with few exceptions like diplomats on duty abroad — had to be inside Israel to vote. The amendment sought to expand the exception to include Israelis “residing in the territories held by the Israel Defense Force.” In other words, Israeli settlers could vote for the Knesset from outside Israel; their Palestinian neighbors could not participate from anywhere.

In a Knesset session discussing the amendment before it passed, one legislator and peace activist, Uri Avnery, expressed a widely held belief that peace initiatives would soon make the amendment obsolete. He expressed the hope that “it won’t be long — a year, a year and a half, two at most — before the thing called ‘the held territories’ is no more, and the I.D.F. pulls back into Israel’s borders.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/opinion/israels-charade-of-democracy.html?_r=0