Saturday, 28 March 2009

Esperando pela entrada em Gaza


Waiting to enter Gaza
Kris Petersen writing from Ramallah, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 25 March 2009

The Israeli-controlled Erez crossing terminal, where most foreigners who wish to enter the Gaza Strip must pass through, August 2007. (Kris Petersen)

If there is a single act that characterizes the plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation, it is waiting: waiting in lines to pass through the hundreds of checkpoints scattered across the West Bank, waiting for Israel to issue an identification card, waiting for permission to travel to the next village or out of the country, waiting for loved ones languishing in Israeli prisons to be released -- waiting for peace, waiting for justice.

And for nearly two months, I found myself sharing the experience of waiting -- for Israel to allow me into Gaza.

Last year, I spent an extended period of time in Gaza working with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), helping them to document human rights abuses in the occupied territories. But the abuses I documented then now seem tame in comparison to the recent heights of atrocity Gaza has endured.

Applying for entry into Gaza through the Israeli military authorities is a Kafkaesque and constantly evolving process. One is not allowed to even approach the Erez military checkpoint on the boundary between Gaza and Israel without prior security clearance and already within a year's time, the application for such clearance had changed dramatically.

Because I had been approved without difficulty in the past, I felt confident that my application would be successful this time as well. The process should have taken no more than five working days, but assuming the situation might be unpredictable, I applied for clearance nearly one month in advance of my arrival in the region. How naive I was.

To my dismay, the Israeli military had not yet reached a decision by the time I flew to Tel Aviv weeks later. The bored, adolescent voices of Israeli soldiers at Erez informed me that there had been no definitive response from security officials and that my application was "still in process."

Undaunted, I began calling daily -- only to receive the same laconic phrase: "still in process." On more than five occasions, I was instructed to call back later that day, sometimes at a specific hour, and when I did my call inevitably went unanswered. Most often, the response at Erez was nothing more than a friendly hang up, often in mid-conversation. When I was able to pry some information from my friendly military interlocutors, the response was mechanical and scripted:

"Because of the security situation, it is difficult to process applications at this time. Some people have been waiting for months, but try calling tomorrow."

Apparently Israel was in no mood for quixotic Westerners with a penchant for human rights. But was there any evidence of Israel intentionally prolonging my application process? Looking into the matter, I soon found that I was just one among many human rights and humanitarian workers that have been systematically blocked from entering Gaza by the Israeli military following the invasion.

In early March 2009, the Israeli human rights groups B'Tselem and Hamoked announced that they had petitioned the Israeli high court demanding their staff members be allowed to enter Gaza for the purposes of human rights monitoring. They derided what they called Israel's "constant foot-dragging" and ultimate "rejection without sufficient explanation." The two organizations, joined by the US-based group Human Rights Watch, reported late last month that their employees "faced continuous delays from the IDF [Israeli army] unit reviewing the applications."

As Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, explained, "Israel's refusal to allow human rights groups access to Gaza raises a strong suspicion that there are things it doesn't want us to see or the world to know about its military operation there."

Contacting friends in Gaza, I discovered that scores of human rights workers have been waiting months for a response from Israel. Some of them are now illegally working in Gaza because Israel's delays have lasted longer than the validity of their original clearance.

For the lucky few that have received any kind of response at all, Israel has apparently instituted a new policy of requiring organizations to be registered with the Israeli Ministry of Social Affairs -- a previously unknown requirement and one that is not explained on the official application for security clearance. The process of registering with this governmental ministry is an obstacle that could potentially take months and even then without the guarantee of being permitted to enter Gaza.

Forced to explore other options, my focus turned to the potential of crossing into Gaza via Egypt, Gaza's frequently sealed backdoor. In the weeks following Israel's assault, Egypt opened the Rafah crossing point in coordination with Hamas and small groups of humanitarian workers, activists and journalists made their way into Gaza -- most notably, British MP George Galloway and American author Alice Walker. But this method is unpredictable; according to a 2005 agreement following Israel's unilateral disengagement, those who do not hold a Palestinian ID are technically forbidden to cross at Rafah. More significantly, Israel's continuation of the military siege prevented the crossing from being open for more than 57 days in 2007 and figures are similar for 2008. Although the border has been opened more frequently so far in 2009, Israel typically requires one to exit Gaza the same way one entered, so this raises the very real possibility of being trapped in the coastal territory if the crossing happens to be sealed upon entering. Unfortunately, I was not in a position for this to happen so my only option remained with the Erez checkpoint.

The reality of Israel's current policy is that by not giving a definitive "no," it avoids the negative public relations of explicitly denying human rights workers access to the Gaza Strip. By prolonging applications indefinitely, it becomes difficult for activists to accuse Israel of systematically blocking access to Gaza, but this is precisely what they are doing. Israel permits most UN employees to enter Gaza as it does some of the larger international groups like CARE or Amnesty International (not to do so would unnecessarily inflame international tempers), but who will raise a cry over the hundreds of smaller organizations effectively banned from entering a territory Israel claims to have quit?

From the rooftop of my Ramallah hotel I could just barely see Tel Aviv beyond the pastoral West Bank landscape. If I was lucky, I could even catch a glimpse of the sea, shimmering in a kaleidoscopic pink and orange as the sun ritually descends into it. This placid scene was frequently shattered by the screams of Israeli fighter jets, tearing mercilessly across the sky -- south towards Gaza -- and the feelings of powerlessness became almost too much for me to take.

My heart aches for Gaza: for the fresh sea air and the desert breeze, for the sweet smell of orange groves and the bitterness of unripe pomelo, for the hospitality offered by those who have lost everything but their lives, for my friends suffering indescribable horrors and for the indomitable spirit of a people who refuse to be extinguished in spite of it all. As I catch my flight out of the region, I am acutely conscious of the fact that Israel has scored a minor success by preventing me from entering Gaza. I could not wait there indefinitely. But I know that there are many other ways to fight Israeli oppression. And through it all, Gaza will endure.

Kris Petersen is a graduate student who worked for the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip between September 2007-January 2008. He blogs on issues related to Palestine at and can be contacted at

Tempos difíceis para os estudantes universitários em Gaza


Tough times for university students in Gaza
Report, The Electronic Intifada, 27 March 2009

The Agricultural College of al-Azhar University in Beit Hanoun was destroyed by the Israeli attacks on Gaza. (Matthew Cassel)

GAZA CITY (IRIN) - Many university students who lost relatives or whose homes were destroyed during the recent 22-day Israeli offensive are finding it difficult to cope, according to university officials and students.

Some have been unable to register for the new semester due to lack of funds; others are still traumatized.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza said 14 of the 15 higher education institutions in the Strip (most are in and around Gaza City) were damaged by Israeli forces. Six came under direct attack.

Three colleges -- al-Da'wa College for Humanities in Rafah, Gaza College for Security Sciences in Gaza City, and the Agricultural College in Beit Hanoun (part of al-Azhar University) -- were destroyed, according to Al Mezan communications officer Mahmoud AbuRahma.

Six university buildings in Gaza were razed to the ground and 16 damaged. The total damage is estimated at $21.1 million, according to the Palestinian National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza.

The Israeli offensive -- in retaliation for continued Hamas rocket-fire from Gaza into Israel -- began on 27 December 2008 and ended on 18 January 2009.

Islamic University

Just after midnight on 28 December the Islamic University was targeted in six separate air strikes, according to eyewitnesses.

The two main buildings on campus were completely destroyed, while nine others were damaged; water, electrical and internet systems were affected, according to the university's president, Kamalain Shaath.

"The two [main] buildings contained 74 science and engineering laboratories equipped with thousands of pieces of apparatus," said Islamic University public relations officer Hussam Ayesh.

The university, which has 22,000 students enrolled, wants to rebuild and renovate but lacks building materials due to the Israeli blockade; Israel is very unlikely to allow in replacement laboratory equipment, without which it will be difficult for classes to resume.

"Only basic food commodities and essential humanitarian items are permitted to enter Gaza," said spokesperson for the Israeli Civil Liaison Administration Maj Peter Lerner.

The Israeli military said the Islamic University was being used by Hamas to develop and store weapons, including Qassam rockets used to target Israeli civilians. The university and Hamas deny the allegations.

The Islamic University has estimated the damage at $15 million. By contrast, tuition fees for the 2009 semester only amount to $10 million. The university has appealed for help and halved the minimum initial payment required by students.

"Tuition fees are now a problem for more than 70 percent of the students and many have missed the semester," said Abdel Rahman Migdad, 20, a third year business studies student. "Books are unavailable due to the siege and most students can't even afford photocopies -- and now we even lack ink for the photocopiers."

Al-Azhar University

Al-Azhar, Gaza's second largest university, generally seen as pro-Fatah (the political faction associated with Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank) was hit on the same day.

"Three thousand of the 20,000 registered students could not return this semester due to issues related to the war," said public relations officer at al-Azhar University Sameh Hassanin, who also said there had been a 20 percent increase in the number of students unable to afford fees since the offensive ended.

"Students lack funds for transport and books, and are struggling," said Hassanin. The university also lacks paper, spare parts and ink for copiers.

The Agricultural College in Beit Hanoun was completely destroyed, with the damage estimated at $4.3 million, according to university officials.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Ilan Pappe sobre a solução de "um estado"


Parte 1

Parte 2

Ana Baltzer- testemunha parte 6


Ana Baltzer- testemunha parte 5


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Ana Baltzer- testemunha parte 3


Ana Baltzer- testemunha parte 2


Ana Baltzer- testemunha parte 1

fonte: You Tube and Anna in the ME

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Dinheiro não paga os direitos políticos dos palestinianos


Euros do not buy the Palestinians political rights
Pepijn van Houwelingen, The Electronic Intifada, 23 March 2009

EU's approach: Israel suffers no consequences for its actions and the Palestinians are generously granted the right to barely survive. (Pepijn van Houwelingen)

The carnage of Israel's recent invasion of Gaza spurred great numbers of dismayed Europeans to participate in demonstrations against the war. In major cities such as Madrid, Brussels, Rome, Berlin and London, tens of thousands took part in demonstrations to make clear to their governments that what was happening was unacceptable. Yet, their objections to Israel's massive use of deadly force were not reflected in the declarations and actions of their countries, as represented by Europe's most significant political body, the European Union, which did not alter its policy of status quo relations with Israel.

It is true that the EU did condemn Israel's conduct (always mentioned in conjunction with Palestinian rocket fire) and called for an immediate ceasefire, something which the United States unsurprisingly fell short of. In addition, various members of the European Parliament expressed their outrage over the destruction of Gaza. British liberal-democrat Chris Davies, for example, said during a 14 January parliamentary debate that the war was "evil" and that Israel had "turned Gaza into hell" with its "21st-century killing machines."

Despite these and other remarks, however, the EU undertook no action that could have been perceived as even vaguely critical of Israel and much effort was put into not "singling out" the country. This apparent ambiguity is typical of the EU's approach. In early December last year, the European Parliament suspended voting on whether or not to upgrade relations with Israel. Yet, only a few days later this decision was bypassed by the EU's Council of Ministers, where all 27 European foreign ministers voted in favor of the upgrade, allowing Israeli ministers to meet with their European counterparts on a regular basis so as to enable dialogue on various strategic issues. Even though plans to make Israel a "privileged partner" have been put on hold, it has been emphasized that this is not a sanction and constitutes merely a "pause" (see Ian Traynor Europe stalls on closer Israel links in Gaza protest Guardian, 14 January 2009). It is therefore likely that talks will be resumed at a later time, which in effect means that Israel is still on its way to become part of the single European market as a sort of semi-member of the EU.

Access to European markets and the ability to influence European decision-making are extremely important to Israel. While the EU lacks the moral authority of the UN and the political visibility of the US, it is, indeed, an important player in the region. Currently the EU constitutes Israel's biggest market for exports as well as its second-largest source of imports (after the US). Furthermore, the EU is a member of the so-called Middle East "Quartet" -- with the hardly credible Tony Blair as its envoy -- which supports a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Practically speaking, the EU's dedication to this solution has primarily been expressed through the medium of euros. In 2008, 486 million euros ($666 million) were donated to the Palestinians, most of it (258 million euros) directly to the Palestinian Authority (see European Commission External Relations, EC Assistance to the Palestinians 19 January 2009). Other beneficiaries include the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) and various Israeli and Palestinian civil society organizations.

The EU has always strived to appear impartial and even-handed in its dealings with Israel and the Palestinians. Certainly, it does not openly favor one party over the other and it has proved more willing than the US to grant the Palestinians a degree of sympathy. However, a closer inspection of where the donated euros really go reveals that European policy has only contributed to the ongoing politicide of the Palestinians. By solely supporting politically impotent organizations such as the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, the EU has failed to truly stand up for the political rights of the Palestinians. The PA's purview is, after all, severely limited, and the inherently flawed Oslo accords of the mid-1990s have led to a situation where the Palestinians are mostly policing their own occupation. In addition, UNRWA's main task is keeping alive and making somewhat bearable the lives of the millions of Palestinian refugees registered with it, but its explicitly apolitical mandate and the existing "protection gap" (the fact that Palestinian refugees within UNRWA's sphere of operations are not eligible for protection and assistance from the more powerful UN High Commissioner for Refugees) has left the majority of Palestinian refugees with no political or legal protections.

Now that Gaza's infrastructure has been leveled by Israel's advanced weaponry, the EU has focused its attention on reconstruction. It is of the utmost importance that enough money is made available to allow Palestinians in Gaza to survive their hardship and rebuild their homes. At the same time it is grimly ironic that international donors such as the EU, a "friend" of Israel, should pay for the recovery of an area that has been destroyed by Israel with weapons sold to it by some of the EU's own member-states. Again, the situation is illustrative of the EU's approach: Israel suffers no consequences for its actions and the Palestinians are generously granted the right to barely survive.

Evidently, large numbers of Palestinians presently rely on European aid for their survival, which is why the EU has a responsibility to deliver the needed support. But when the EU decided in 2006 to suspend its payments to the PA after the electoral victory of Hamas, it became apparent that the EU does not appreciate the full extent of its responsibilities. Most of all, its decision revealed clearly how the EU prefers to finance politically harmless actors, enabling only the most basic form of survival, rather than provide true support for full Palestinian rights.

Being the largest donor of aid to the Palestinians and Israel's main trading partner, the EU has the potential to play a much more significant role in supporting and protecting Palestinian rights. This would give substance and credibility to its discourse on defending human rights and acting as a "force for good." Yet, by taking a seemingly neutral approach and abiding by the positions of the Quartet, which typically represent the lowest common denominator imaginable, EU member-states reveal a disinterest in protecting Palestinians from anything other than starvation. Ultimately an "even-handed" approach such as the EU's is fairly meaningless when one party is a well-developed industrial state with a very large and highly mechanized military, while the other is a systematically oppressed, occupied and impoverished people. Thus, "objectivity" logically prejudices the oppressor over the oppressed. Obviously the latter would require a range of protective measures in order to guarantee its rights. Since these are nonexistent, the Palestinians' politicide continues unabated, with the silent consent of the EU.

For those Europeans who believe that their countries and the EU should take a firmer stand against Israel, the quintessential question is: what can they do? It is important to realize that the tragedy of Palestine lies not exclusively in singular outbreaks of violence, but also consists of the ongoing incremental injustice that is being inflicted upon the Palestinians, such as through the expansion of settlements in the West Bank -- a fact very well-known to the EU. Accordingly it should be understood that demonstrating (through protests or by other means) only against the gravest instances of Israeli aggression does not suffice. Israel's upgrade in relations with the EU and the fact that it may become a "privileged partner" are not widely known amongst European citizens. These are very significant issues, though, and effort should be put into bringing them to attention and communicating to European leaders that rewarding Israel for its misbehavior is not the way forward. Surely it will be difficult to counter the vast economic interests that are at stake, but there is no excuse to idly stand by while the EU becomes a passive accomplice in the perpetuation of the Palestinians' ordeal. Ongoing boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns may serve as a vehicle to convey these points.

Furthermore, what is needed is a more active policy to protect and strengthen Palestinian political rights. The most important step for the EU is to take seriously the will of the Palestinians by accepting the results of their elections, whichever party may come out victorious. This would prove that "democracy" and "human rights" are more than meaningless platitudes which are valid only when it is politically safe. Although this seems quite obvious, the EU has so far failed to prove that it is serious about promoting the rights it so often speaks of. Ultimately, the Palestinians themselves must attain their political goals, and no one expects the EU to just deliver this to them. But in the current situation, Europe could and should play a role in enabling Palestinians to exercise their right to have a say in their own destiny.

Altogether, Javier Solana, the representative of EU Foreign Affairs, was quite right when he said that "the parameters for a solution are known," but what is needed is "the political will" (see European Parliament Press Release, Highlights of Brussels plenary session, 18 February 2009). This certainly applies to the EU itself, and Europeans who are concerned about their role in the oppression and occupation of Palestine would do well to consider this.

Pepijn van Houwelingen is a Dutch PhD candidate at the department of Politics and International Relations of Royal Holloway, University of London. He is affiliated with the department's Centre for European Politics ( His PhD research is concerned with the impacts of European Foreign Policy towards the Middle East. Previously he has worked in Bethlehem for BADIL research and resource centre ( and can be reached at P.M.J.Van-Houwelingen A T rhul D O T ac D O T uk

Lieberman não é anormalidade


Lieberman is no abnormality
Nimer Sultany, The Electronic Intifada, 24 March 2009

It would be mistaken to think of the rise of Avigdor Lieberman as a major development or as the main source of concern for the Palestinians. (Levine/SIPA)

One can easily detect a generally superficial, and convenient, analysis of the outcomes of Israeli elections in western media outlets thus far. Indeed, the far right-wing of the Zionist continuum has strengthened its hold on the Israeli political system in the recent Israeli elections. Yet, it would be misleading to see these results as mainly the direct product of the onslaught on Gaza and the popular sentiment that followed, and to isolate them from processes that were underway years before the war. Indeed, the right-wing has been in a better position than the left within the Jewish vote since 1977, and its power has been steadily increasing since Ehud Barak destroyed the so-called Zionist left in Camp David 2000 and its aftermath.

Likewise, it would be mistaken to think of the rise of Avigdor Lieberman and his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, as a major development or as the main source of concern for the Palestinians. Focusing on Lieberman (charitably called by the Guardian a "hardliner") distracts the discussion from the real issues to the person of one unpleasant politician who says ignominious things others are generally unwilling to say. This logic seems to suggest that the political disappearance of Lieberman will bring about a serendipitous resolution of major problems in the Middle East. Lieberman, however, only exacerbates an already existing problem, and he cannot be easily dismissed as a marginal case of excess or abnormality of the Israeli political system.

First, one needs to be reminded that among Yisrael Beiteinu's elected members of the Knesset are men who come from the establishment, for example, a former ambassador to the US and a former senior commander in the police force.

Second, in the negotiations that followed elections day there was a wide range of agreement not only between the Likud of Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman, but also the Kadima party of current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Lieberman. Both sides were trying to convince him to join their own coalition. Needless to say, both Lieberman and Kadima emerged in the last decade as an offspring of the Likud.

Third, Ehud Barak of the Labor party rejected before the elections some of his senior party members' demand to promise not to join a coalition that would include Lieberman. Even worse, Barak claimed that Lieberman talks the talk but does not walk the walk as he never "shot anyone" thereby implying that he himself is the tough guy since he did actually kill Arabs in his past.

Fourth, Lieberman's central idea of land swap or population swap that would include Palestinian citizens of Israel and his view of this minority as a demographic and strategic threat to the self-proclaimed Jewish state are actually not controversial among the major parties and elites in Israel. The question of Palestinian citizenship in a Jewish state started long before Lieberman emerged on the scene and used incitement against the Palestinian citizens to gain more votes. Indeed, many prominent Israeli academics and politicians have expressed support of these ideas including Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, Elie Yishai of the Shas party, Ephraim Sneh of Labor, journalist Dan Margalit and historian Benny Morris. To give one example, Ehud Barak said in his June 2002 interview with Benny Morris in The New York Review of Books that the Arab citizens will serve as the "spear point" of the Palestinian struggle, and that this would require changes in the rules of the "democratic game" to guarantee the "Jewishness" of the state. He also expressed support for a land swap that would include large Arab concentrations inside Israel because it makes "demographic sense."

To give another example, on 23 January 2002 Livni urged members of the Knesset to reject an "equal protection clause" according to which equality is the right of every citizen in the state regardless of his or her nationality or religion or views. Indeed, the proposed bill was rejected and formal equality remains outside the Israeli book of laws. She also supported "settlement and allocation of land for Jews only" bills in the Knesset. Finally, she repeatedly argued that Israel will never be the national home for its Palestinian citizens, and if they have a collective aspiration they should look for it somewhere else.

Fifth, this is not the first time that Lieberman has become a cabinet minister in Israel. In fact he served as the minister of national infrastructure (2001-02), minister of transportation (2003-04), and then more recently as the minister for strategic affairs (2006-08).

Sixth, Lieberman is not the first or only outspoken proponent of expulsion of the Palestinians to serve in the government. In fact, Rehavam Ze'evi of the racist Moledet party was a minister without portfolio (1991-92), and then again as a minister of tourism (2001) in the Sharon government until he was assassinated by Palestinians, only to be replaced by Benjamin Elon of the same party and with the same views. Ze'evi was more principled in this issue than Lieberman. Notable in this context is that the Israeli legislator enacted a law to commemorate Ze'evi's "legacy" after his assassination.

Other fascist politicians have also served in the Israeli government in recent years. Effie Eitam of the National Religious Party (HaMafdal), for instance, is another proponent of expulsion who famously called the Palestinian citizens of Israel a "ticking bomb" and a "cancer." That did not prevent the former general from being appointed as a minister of housing (2003-04) and minister of national infrastructure (2002).

In Theodor Herzl's novel Altneuland, published in 1902, Rabbi Dr. Geyer ran in the elections on the platform of disenfranchising the Arab citizens. The mainstream Zionists, on the one hand, and the good Arab who welcomed the Zionists, on the other hand, rejected Geyer as a troublemaker and Geyer was defeated in the elections in the novel. Lieberman currently plays the role of Rabbi Geyer with the difference that he actually won in the elections and he is a kingmaker. This state of affairs seems to have misled many of the commentators who are focused on the danger that the emergence of Lieberman poses. That would be tantamount to focusing on Rabbi Geyer and forgetting Herzl and the Zionist project itself which entailed not only the displacement of the Palestinian people but also the unequal status for those who remained as citizens inside Israel.

The movement to the right wing within Zionism cannot be reduced to Lieberman, and what is troubling about Zionism cannot be reduced to its right-wing side only.

Nimer Sultany is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and currently a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School. He has worked as a human rights lawyer in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and as the head of the political monitoring project at Mada al-Carmel (the Arab center for applied social research).

o menino do chá em Gaza



Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Inside Story/crimes israelitas em Gaza (2)

fonte: Al Jazeera parte 2

Monday, 23 March 2009

Inside Story/crimes israelitas em Gaza

fonte:Al Jazeera parte 1

As autoridades israelitas proibiram um festival cultural palestiniano

Israeli authorities ban Palestinian Cultural Festival
Press release, Al-Haq, 22 March 2009

A ceremony celebrating Jerusaelm as the Capital of Arab Culture 2009 in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, 22 March 2009. (Mouid Ashqar/MaanImages)

As an organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq condemns the repressive actions taken today [Saturday 21 March 2009] by the Israeli authorities in banning peaceful cultural activities organized as part of the Palestinian Cultural Festival marking the declaration of Jerusalem as the "Capital of Arab Culture 2009."

Coming in the wake of a recent intensification of human rights violations against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem -- most notably in the form of home demolitions aimed at removing Palestinians from East Jerusalem -- the decision of the Israeli Minister of Internal Security, Avi Dichter, to prevent and suppress today's events ties into a broader policy of restriction of Palestinian civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

On Thursday 19 March, Israeli police dispersed a meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem of the organizers of the planned cultural activities, and confiscated related material and computers. The Israeli authorities were consequently fully aware that the activities were intended to take place primarily inside schools, social clubs and community centers. Under instruction from the Ministry of Internal Security, today Israeli police entered a number of schools in East Jerusalem, including St. George's Boys School and the Schmidt Girls School, as well as community centers such as Burj al-Laqlaq, in order to prevent the performance of sports and cultural activities inside the respective institutions. Initial information gathered by Al-Haq's fieldworkers indicates that a number of the organizers were arrested; specially designed flags and related material to mark the event were confiscated from schools and individuals; and peaceful gatherings were aggressively dispersed by Israeli police.

The decision to interfere with the Palestinian cultural events was taken by the Minister of Internal Security at the behest of the head of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, Nachi Eyal, who described the planned events as an "attempt to demonstrate Palestinian sovereignty in Jerusalem in an illegal manner," and asserted that Palestinians are obliged "to respect the sovereignty of Israel within the boundaries of the State of Israel, including East Jerusalem." This patently contradicts clear international legal norms which provide that an Occupying Power is prohibited from extending its sovereignty over the territory it occupies. It is on this basis that the UN Security Council has held Israel's annexation of occupied East Jerusalem to be "invalid," and "null and void." This position has been repeatedly affirmed by the international legal community, including the International Court of Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions.

Indeed, East Jerusalem is incontrovertibly recognized under international law as an integral part of the occupied territory over which the Palestinian people is entitled to exercise its right to self-determination. A foundational principle of international human rights law, the right to self-determination includes the right of peoples to freely pursue their cultural development. The individual rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly are also firmly embedded in the lexicon of international human rights law, and have all been violated by the actions of the Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem.

The Israeli authorities have also issued orders preventing related cultural events in Nazareth from taking place, a decision which stands in stark contrast to the permission recently granted by the Israeli High Court of Justice to extremist Israeli settler Baruch Marzel, from the illegal settlement of Tel Rumeida (Hebron), to lead a march through the Palestinian town of Umm al-Fahm on 24 March.

Such double standards show a clear intent on the part of the Israeli authorities to stifle Palestinian cultural identity and expression, while at the same time fomenting provocative manifestations of extremist Israeli ideology.

Al-Haq calls on the international community to:

  • Strongly condemn Israel's illegal measures aimed at altering the status of occupied East Jerusalem and denying the exercise of Palestinian cultural and political rights towards fulfillment of the right to self-determination; and
  • Take concrete action towards ending the illegal situation created by Israel's policies in regard to East Jerusalem, including by refraining from providing any direct or indirect assistance to Israeli violations of international law therein.

Palestine Blogs - The Gazette Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.