Saturday, 16 May 2009

UE obrigado a julgar os suspeitos dos crimes de guerra


EU obligated to prosecute war crime suspects
Daniel Machover and Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 14 May 2009

EU Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering talks with Palestinians during his visit to the Gaza Strip one month after the end of the Israeli assault. (Wissam Nassar/)

Over the past year, the European Union and Israel have deepened their relationship. The enhanced partnership that provides for closer political and mutually beneficial trade and investment relations as well as economic, social, financial, civil scientific, technological and cultural cooperation. The EU will pump 14 million euros ($18 million) of taxpayer money into the cooperation over the next seven years. However, talks to upgrade the current association agreement were suspended in January 2009 because of Israel's 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip. On 23 April, EU commissioner for external relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement that "the EU deeply deplores the loss of life during this conflict, particularly the civilian casualties, and would follow closely investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law." Ferrero-Waldner chastised Israel's refusal to endorse a Palestinian state. Israel quickly responded, warning the EU to tone down its criticism.

In the midst of the Gaza invasion, numerous experts pointed out that Israel was committing severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law. The Hague regulations and Geneva conventions specifically mention the illegality of collective punishment, targeting civilians during wartime and rules on military necessity and proportionality. Israel did not allow journalists and international monitors to enter Gaza during the invasion, and these opinions were based on limited eyewitness and media reports. In order to come to a full understanding of the operations and assess the harm done, human rights organizations, UN bodies and the Arab League have undertaken fact-finding missions and investigations. As the conclusions from these various investigations are released, it is now apparent that Israel does indeed have a case to answer to on many alleged war crimes.

As High Contracting Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, EU countries are obligated to bring the legal duties of the Fourth Geneva Convention into their law. The basic starting point is enacting any legislation necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing or ordering any of the grave breaches of the convention (i.e., war crimes). The following grave breaches mentioned in the convention seem relevant to the assault on Gaza:

"[W]illful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, or willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention."

EU countries also have the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed or to have ordered such grave breaches, and must bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts (or extradite them to another country that is prepared to prosecute).

The authoritative commentary on the Fourth Geneva Convention, published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), states that:

"As soon as a contracting party realizes that there is on its territory a person who has committed ... a [grave] breach, its duty is to ensure that the person concerned is arrested and prosecuted with all speed. The necessary police action should be taken spontaneously, therefore, not merely in pursuance of a request from another State."

The ICRC commentary confirms that EU countries have an obligation to actively search for suspected war criminals. It follows that this duty should include maintaining border controls that enable a state to ensure that known suspects seeking to enter the jurisdiction are arrested on arrival. Many studies by human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Redress Trust, have looked at the compliance of states with their legislative obligations under the Geneva conventions and these reveal some shocking failures by major EU countries. Austria, France, Greece and Italy have simply done nothing to make it possible for suspected war criminals to be prosecuted in their countries under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Meanwhile, full compliance with the principle of universal jurisdiction has not been achieved in several countries and in Malta and Latvia the situation is not fully clear and requires further research. For example, in Belgium the requirements to exercise universal jurisdiction do not comply with the Geneva conventions, because they contain a series of complex rules regarding the status of the suspect and the victim, none of which are permitted in the conventions.

The mere presence of a suspected war criminal of whatever nationality on the territory of a state should be enough to trigger universal criminal jurisdiction, regardless of the nationality or current whereabouts of the victim. Moreover, with the EU's obsession about the safety of borders and preventing undesirable people from entering the free market area, one would have thought that the member states would coordinate to ensure European countries never become safe havens for suspected war criminals.

Palestinian victims of alleged war crimes, just like other victims of war crimes, seek justice and the fair application of the rule of international criminal law to their cases. On 4 May, Judge Fernando Andreu of the Spanish National Court announced the decision to continue the investigation into the July 2002 bombing of al-Daraj, Gaza. This attack resulted in the deaths of 16 Palestinians, including 14 civilians. The decision represents a major step towards achieving justice for the victims. It opens the door for accountability, whereby suspected Israeli war criminals may be held responsible for the suffering they have inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza.

Fair criminal trials in EU member states, especially if they result in convictions, could provide genuine deterrence and begin to provide justice for Palestinian victims of Israeli actions. The EU has a massive role in that regard. Instead of paying lip service to injustices inflicted upon the Palestinian people by issuing statements "deploring the loss of life" and promises to "follow closely investigations into alleged violations of international humanitarian law," EU countries would achieve much more by applying the rule of law to Israel, starting with making their laws match their obligations under the 1949 Geneva Conventions. After all, 60 years later there is little sign that the need for war crimes trials has reduced.

Daniel Machover is an attorney and co-founder of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights based in Great Britain, and Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.

soldados da ocupação e ladrões


Elite IDF soldier confesses to looting Gaza home during war

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

An elite Israel Defense Forces soldier confessed on Tuesday to stealing a credit card from a home in northern Gaza during the recent offensive against Hamas and using it to withdraw NIS 1,600 in Israel.

The soldier, who serves in the Givati infantry unit's reconnaissance battalion, was arrested last week with one of his comrades. The second soldier was released after his friend confessed.

Following the soldier's confession, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit relayed: "The IDF examines every incident that is not in line with the laws of the state and the principles of the IDF."

The army's police investigative unit launched a probe into the allegations last month after receiving a complaint.

A Palestinian residing in the northern Gaza Strip claimed his credit card was stolen during Operation Cast Lead, the codename for Israel's offensive against Hamas. A short while later, his credit card statement revealed that a number of products were purchased in Israel.

In the statement released Tuesday by the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, the army further said: "In light of the nature of the complaint, the military prosecution ordered the Military Police Investigation unit to open probes in which they would take evidence in order to examine the claims."

"As is customary," the unit added, "the investigations are accompanied by prosecutors for operational matters who will check the findings and recommend steps to take, should this be found necessary.

"Following these claims two soldiers were arrested for investigation by the Military Police Investigation unit."

famílias na Faixa de Gaza com uma refeição por dia


Gaza families down to a meal a day
Erin Cunningham, The Electronic Intifada, 13 May 2009

GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Umm Abdullah cannot remember the last time she was able to feed meat to her eight children. She does know that for the past week the single meal she cooked for them each day consisted only of lentils. And that on one day, she had received aid coupons from the United Nations, which she subsequently sold to buy tomatoes and eggplant at the local market.

Umm Abdullah is a 42-year-old dressmaker and hails from Jabaliya, a cramped refugee camp on the outskirts of Gaza City. Stories like hers are commonplace across the Gaza Strip, where years of sanctions, siege and now war have battered the territory's economy and put many essentials out of reach for the majority of the population.

"We live day to day, nothing more," says Umm Abdullah, who made less than three dollars in profit over the last three days. "If we can eat once a day, that is good enough for us."

While the prices of food and other goods have cooled off from the record highs they hit during Israel's three-week assault, the World Food Program (WFP) reports that a number of items, many of them basic, remain more expensive for Gaza's residents than they were before the attacks.

Sugar, rice, onion, cucumber, tomato, lemon, pepper, chicken, meat, fish and garlic were all more expensive for Gaza's residents in March 2009 than they were in December 2008, the WFP says.

The price of pepper per kilogram doubled, while the cost of onions jumped 33 percent. Fresh chicken is now 43 percent more expensive than before the attacks, a result of the destruction of a number of poultry farms across Gaza throughout the assault.

The decimation of wide swathes of agricultural land, as well as cattle and sheep farms, has added to Gaza's growing food insecurity.

But the war only intensified an already dire humanitarian situation, economists say, which has its roots in Israel's economic siege that hermetically sealed Gaza's borders in June 2007.

The shortage of all but "essential" goods and a flow of only a trickle of fuel have sent prices of food and other products skyrocketing over the past two years, making them unaffordable to many households in the Gaza Strip.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the food portion of Gaza's consumer price index (CPI) -- an economic indicator used to measure the average price of goods and services purchased by households -- rose 28 percent in 2008.

In Israel, by comparison, the CPI's food segment increased by less than five percent from March 2008 to March 2009, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reports.

"A negative economic growth rate coupled with an extreme shortage of goods is causing what we call stagflation in Gaza and that is what is behind the high prices," says Dr. Ibrahim Hantash of the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute.

"The rampant smuggling also sends prices of basic goods through the roof, because there is no control. It's all black market."

After the war, the majority of Gazans are now living below the income poverty line, says the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). It defines the line as a family of six subsisting on 500 dollars per month.

More than half of those families living below the poverty are living in extreme hardship, on less than 250 dollars each month, or approximately 1.35 dollars per person per day.

And because Gaza's households spend most of their dwindling monthly income on food, the IMF says, 75 percent of the population has been forced to reduce the quantity of food they buy, while 89 percent reduced the quality.

This has meant many households, like Umm Abdullah's, have had to forego certain sources of protein, including meat and eggs.

"Gazans face an acute shortage of nutritious, locally-produced and affordable food," says a report released by the WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in March.

Gazans have consequently reduced their daily calorie intake, mainly by no longer eating items like red meat, rice, oils and fats, and fruits and dairy products -- leading to nutritional deficiencies like anaemia, the report says.

Jalal Ataf al-Masari has been running a fruit stand at the heart of the crowded Beach refugee camp in Gaza City for 10 years, and he says he has never seen prices so high and business so low.

"At the beginning of the siege, it was only the poor that stopped buying fruit," al-Masari says. "Now, nobody buys fruit. Life has become increasingly worse."

One kilo of bananas at al-Masari's shop is six shekels, or 1.45 dollars. Apples, imported from Israel, are five shekels, or 1.20 dollars per kilo. Before the siege, al-Masari says, you could buy three kilos of apples for 10 shekels, or 2.42 dollars.

Now, not even pears, peaches or kiwis are available in the market. Many of Gaza's "supermarkets" contain sparsely stocked shelves of UN-distributed rice, EU-donated cooking oil, some canned goods and plastic bags of flour, salt and lentils.

"I have been dealing with this siege for two years and I still can't believe how expensive everything is," al-Masari says. "It's more expensive than America."

The WFP says Gaza's residents are resorting to certain "coping mechanisms" to keep their families afloat, including selling jewelry or property, buying food on credit, and borrowing from friends and family.

Soha Kaloub, mother of eight and wife of a civil policeman whose salary has been cut off by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, says from her bare home in the Beach refugee camp that they were forced to sell off all their furniture in order to buy food.

Kaloub cannot afford to fill her six-kilogram canister of cooking gas, which would cost her about six dollars, so she uses a small kerosene cooker left over from the era of the Ottoman rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

She uses it to cook beans or lentils, sometimes vegetables, for her children. "For nine months, we haven't had meat or chicken. My refrigerator is empty, our lives our empty," Kaloub says. "It wasn't paradise before the siege, but it was better. At least we had something."

All rights reserved, IPS - Inter Press Service (2009).

Friday, 15 May 2009


HOJE comemoremos o triste aniversário da Naqba com os 7 milhões refugiados palestinianos desde 1948

اليوم نحتفل بالذكرى الواحدة والستين للنكبة ونتضامن مع السبعة ملايين لاجئ فلسطيني في الشتات

o "chumbo elenco" de Israel e a Sharpeville da Palestina

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Israel's Cast Lead, Palestine's Sharpeville

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators clash with police in Paris; Jan 10. (EPA/file)

By Sayed Dhansay

It has been just over three months since Israel unilaterally declared an end to operation Cast Lead and withdrew its forces from the Gaza Strip following its 22 day onslaught there. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a total of 1,434 people were killed in the operation, approximately 960 of them civilians. Of these, nearly 300 victims were children. This, in addition to the 5000 plus who were injured, and the growing number of deaths due to the ongoing siege.

Other reports have indicated that over 20,000 buildings have been partially or completely destroyed, leaving an estimated one sixth of Gaza ruined and entire neighbourhoods obliterated. The already overburdened and crumbling infrastructure of Gaza is now on the brink of total collapse, exacerbated by the refusal of Israeli and Egyptian authorities to allow construction materials into the besieged territory.

Shocking as these few figures may be, of much greater concern is the manner in which our political leaders responded to this catastrophe as it unfolded.

Israel’s operation Cast Lead was a defining moment in recent history, bringing to light many truths about the condition of the society in which we live. The most obvious of these was the complete and utter failure of so-called world leaders and modern political diplomacy at a time when it was needed most.

While the IDF systematically violated seemingly every tenet of international law, our supposed leaders sat by and left the defenseless people of Gaza to face the fury of the world’s third largest army on their own. Aside from the sheer scale of the Israeli army’s attacks on Gaza, the most astounding phenomenon of those 22 days was the inability of the world’s leaders to take a united stand to bring about an end to the violence.

While the UN Security Council worked and re-worked a resolution to ensure its “appropriate wording” (read: not offend Zionist sensitivities), the Arab League bickered about which side of the Palestinian political divide they were actually on. It took the Arab League days before they could even reach agreement on such a simple task as releasing a statement condemning the violence.

And when the editing and arguing was finally complete in the plush halls of New York and Doha, the hopeful masses around the world were only further disappointed, nay disgusted, with the lackluster results of our elected representatives’ efforts. While we waited for our leaders to exert real diplomatic pressure on Israel, all they had were watered down words of discouragement. They urged Israel to “exercise restraint” and expressed “concern” at the unfolding catastrophe on the ground, while Gazans were screaming for help.

Not a single influential head of state had the guts to openly criticize Israel or ask them to stop. And of course, when any half-hearted statement indirectly suggested that the IDF’s conduct was becoming a matter of concern, it was quickly qualified with the same standard line: that Hamas should cease firing rockets. Just to remind everyone that Hamas had actually started the fight, and that it really was up to them whether it would continue or not. When Hamas had respected the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire for the preceding six months while the IDF continued its incursions into Gaza, this was however not recognized. As usual, the Palestinians were again being blamed for bringing the latest massacre upon themselves.

In its opening paragraphs, the United Nations charter states its determination to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, and establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising out of international law can be maintained.” After Israeli forces bombed several UN facilities in Gaza, including a school housing refugees and a warehouse containing food and relief aid, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decided to pay Gaza a visit.

His press conference made for quite dramatic viewing as he addressed journalists in front of the blackened and still smoldering UN warehouse. Appearing angered, he labeled the incident “an outrageous and unacceptable attack on the United Nations”, and called for a full investigation into the matter, as well as an explanation from Israeli authorities. Bold words indeed.

Released last week, that report concluded that Israel was directly responsible for attacking seven UN facilities during the offensive. It accused the Israeli army of “varying degrees of negligence or recklessness with regard to UN premises and to the safety of UN staff and other civilians within those premises, with consequent deaths, injuries and extensive physical damage and loss of property”.

Though Ki-moon commissioned the investigation, he was rather quick to distance himself from its findings. Instead of laying out the report’s damning details, he praised Israel for its co-operation, stressed that its findings were not legally binding and said that he had no plans to act on the report’s recommendation to launch a broader investigation. One wonders what the purpose of calling for an investigation in the first place was then. Perhaps it was just an attempt to deflect criticism from the UN at the time for its embarrassing inability to uphold its basic founding ideals as outlined above, or protect its own employees and property for that matter.

The only two countries of which I am aware that took genuine punitive diplomatic measures were Venezuela and Mauritania, who closed down their Israeli embassies and expelled the ambassadors. But for the most part, the international community turned their backs on Gaza.

When leaders fail to act, a natural reaction is for ordinary people to rise up and take matters into their own hands. In the history of all struggles against oppression, there is usually a defining moment, or tipping point which sparks a wave of change that ultimately changes the course of history for good. This was the case on 21 March 1960 in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa.

Fed up with Apartheid policies, and specifically Pass Laws, thousands of black youth converged on the Sharpeville police station, offering themselves up for arrest for not carrying the pass books that the Apartheid government required all blacks to carry. Outnumbered and feeling threatened, the 20 or so police officers present opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 people and injuring nearly 200.

The ensuing uproar saw mass protests, strikes and riots across the country, forcing the government to declare a state of emergency and detain thousands of people. A storm of international protest followed the shootings, including sympathetic demonstrations in many countries and condemnation from the United Nations.

After receiving complaints from 29 member states, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 134, voicing the Council’s anger at the actions of the Government, and calling upon it to abandon Apartheid. The Sharpeville shootings also played a pivotal role in South Africa’s expulsion from the Commonwealth of Nations the following year, as well as the shift from passive resistance to armed resistance by the ANC and other political parties.

This was South Africa’s tipping point in the struggle against Apartheid. From that point onwards, the Apartheid regime found itself increasingly isolated and boycotted by the international community. The most damaging aspect of this isolation however, was the economic, sporting and cultural boycott implemented by ordinary people across the world.

Pressure by American students on their universities to divest from South Africa saw billions of dollars of educational trust fund assets being withdrawn from the South African economy. Nelson Mandela is in fact quoted as saying that the University of California’s divestment campaign played a significant role in the abolishment of white-minority rule in South Africa.

Additionally, economic sanctions and the withdrawal of several multinational corporations pushed the South African economy and government to near bankruptcy.

Much like Sharpeville, I believe that the tipping point in Palestine’s struggle against decades of repressive Israeli occupation was operation Cast Lead. In an unprecedented outpouring of support and sympathy for Palestinians not witnessed in years, millions across the world took to the streets in protest at the Israeli army’s brutal attack on Gaza. The world finally appears to have woken from its slumber.

And much like the events following Sharpeville, the campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is once again being spearheaded by ordinary people of conscience across the world. Following protests and ‘occupations’ of several university campuses in the US and UK, the trustees of these universities have for the first time been forced to agree to start divesting educational trust fund money from Israel.

In August last year, the Free Gaza Movement successfully docked two boats in Gaza’s main port, the first international boats to dock in Gaza in more than 40 years. This was also the first time in 60 years that Palestinians had entered or left their country without having to undergo Israeli interrogation. This was followed up by six more successful aid boat voyages to Gaza, with another planned for June this year.

In February, Durban dock workers refused to offload Israeli cargo from a ship, while an Australian dock workers union resolved to support the international BDS campaign and boycott all vessels coming from or going to Israel. A recent poll in Israel found that 21% of Israeli exporters have been directly affected by boycotts since the beginning of 2009. And it was recently reported that French transport giant Veolia has lost some $7.5 billion in contracts due to its involvement in the Jerusalem light rail project which is threatening Palestinian homes.

In March, British MP George Galloway and his Viva Palestina aid convoy took 110 vehicles and over $1 million of aid through the Rafah crossing into Gaza after an 8,000 km trek across Europe. From all corners of the globe, ordinary people are doing extraordinary things. The world’s most powerful governments are being put to shame as regular folk are achieving what diplomacy has failed to achieve in decades.

It is unfortunate that often, only after the worst of calamities has occurred, that the best qualities of the human spirit become visible. The outright moral failure of our leaders regarding Gaza is being matched only by the creativity and determination of the global solidarity movement. The momentum gained over the last few months needs to be maintained and increased, until freedom, justice and normality is returned to Palestine, as it was to South Africa. And the message to our leaders is loud and clear: If you do not act, we will.

- Sayed Dhansay is based in South Africa. He contributed this article to

a dimensão política da visita do papa

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Pope’s 'Pilgrimage' Mired in Politics

The Pope declared that he was coming as a 'pilgrim of peace'.

By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth

Pope Benedict XVI upset the schedule on his first day in Israel by leaving an interfaith meeting in Jerusalem early on Monday night after a leading Muslim cleric called on him to condemn the “slaughter” of women and children in the recent assault on Gaza.

The pontiff walked out, a spokesman noted, because Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi’s speech was a “direct negation” of dialogue and damaged the Pope’s efforts at “promoting peace”.

Before he arrived in the region, the Pope declared that he was coming as a “pilgrim of peace”, with his staff accentuating that his role would be spiritual rather than political.

In truth, however, Pope Benedict’s visit was mired in politics the moment he agreed, at the invitation of Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, to step into this conflict-torn region.

The two popes who preceded him to the Holy Land appear to have better appreciated that point.

The first, Paul VI, made a hurried 12-hour stop in 1964, before the Vatican and Israel had established diplomatic relations, to conduct a Mass in Nazareth. During that time he did not utter the word “Israel” or formally meet with an Israeli official.

The second, John Paul II, came to the Holy Land in radically different circumstances: for the millennium, when hopes were still bright for the peace process. The Vatican had recognized Israel a few years earlier and the pontiff worked hard to soothe long-standing Jewish grievances against the Catholic church.

But he is also remembered by Palestinians for his bold move in joining Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, on a visit to the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem, where he cited UN resolutions against Israel and graphically described the “degrading conditions” under which Palestinians lived.

A decade on, the degrading conditions of occupation have worsened considerably and hopes of peace have vanished. In the circumstances, some Palestinians question what point a papal visit has served.

“The very act of coming here is a political act that works to the benefit of Israel,” observed Mazin Qumsiyeh, a prominent peace activist who teaches at the West Bank’s only Catholic university, in Bethlehem.

“This Pope’s visit, unlike his predecessor’s, offers no novelty -- apart from his decision to stand next to [the Israeli prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and legitimize an extreme right-wing government.”

Israeli officials too are unpersuaded by the Pope’s claim that he can avoid being dragged into local politics. Or as one government adviser told the Haaretz newspaper: “We have become pariahs in so many places around the globe. Promoting the Pope’s visit to the state is part of changing that.”

Israel has established the largest press centre in the country’s history for this visit, while police have broken up attempts by Palestinian organizations in Jerusalem to present a rival picture to journalists.

The attempts at careful stage management began from the moment the Pope’s plane touched down in Tel Aviv on Monday. At the reception, Pope Benedict stood between Mr Netanyahu and Mr Peres to listen not only to the Israeli national anthem but also to Jerusalem of Gold, a song popularised by soldiers during the capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war.

The lyrics -- offensive to Palestinians -- describe an empty and neglected city before the arrival of Jews.

Similarly, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, made a point of welcoming him to the “capital of Israel and the Jewish people”, a description of Jerusalem not recognized in international law.

After the Pope failed to object, the Israeli media happily concluded that the country’s occupation of Jerusalem had papal blessing.

In addition, Palestinians, including the 100,000 with ties to Rome, have been angered by the Pope’s official meeting with the parents of the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a humanitarian gesture made political for them by the fact that he has not extended the same courtesy to the parents of any of the thousands of Palestinians in Israeli captivity.

Many Palestinians appreciate that the Pope -- with his unfortunate, if apparently involuntary, connections to Nazi Germany -- has been especially careful not to offend Israeli sensitivities, even if his speech at Yad Vashem failed to live up to the country’s high expectations.

But some also conclude that he has done too little to let the world know of their own plight.

Under pressure from Israel he has refused to visit Gaza, even at the beseeching of the tiny and besieged community of Catholics there.

Yesterday, to minimize Israel’s embarrassment, Vatican officials tried as best they could to keep him out of view of the oppressive wall that encircles Bethlehem. But he did speak to the press outside a UN school at a refugee camp within metres of the wall.

And today, as he headed to Nazareth to celebrate mass, he will not meet Mazin Ghanaim, mayor of the Galilee town of Sakhnin, after Israel labelled Mr Ghanaim a “supporter of terror” for criticizing its offensive in Gaza.

In private at least, some Palestinian Christian leaders admit that there are pressures on the Pope other than his own personal history that may make him wary of antagonizing Israel.

Most importantly, the Vatican desperately needs exemption from Israeli taxes levied on the Church’s extensive land holdings. Unpaid property taxes are reported to amount to $70 million.

The Holy See also wants a reprieve from Israeli policies that deny visas to many church officials and block clerics’ movement in the occupied territories.

As the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, recently complained: “At the roadblocks, even priestly garb doesn’t help.”

And finally, the Vatican has been seeking Israel’s agreement for more than a decade to return to its control major sites of pilgrimage, including Mount Tabor and the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

But Israel has not been able to control the message completely. On his one-day trip to Bethlehem and the Aida refugee camp yesterday, the Pope did acknowledge Palestinian suffering and the destruction of Gaza, even if he blamed it vaguely on “the turmoil that has afflicted this land for decades”.

He lamented the difficulties Palestinians face in reaching their holy places in Jerusalem, though he appeared to justify the restrictions on Israel’s “serious security concerns”.

And he criticized the building of a wall around Bethlehem, while attributing its construction to the “stalemate” in relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

- Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). He contributed this article to, Visit his website at: version of this article originally appeared in The National, (, published in Abu Dhabi.)

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Obama escolhe Egipto

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Obama picks Egypt

'Mubarak's decision to keep Rafah border closed was widely condemned.'

By Rannie Amiri

The White House announced Friday that President Obama will deliver his much anticipated (and promised) address to the Arab and Muslim worlds on June 4 from Egypt.

Is Egypt the best venue for a speech of this significance though?

In defending the selection, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “It is a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world.”

With a population of 80 million, it certainly is the largest, and no one would dispute its cultural and historical standing. But the question remains: is it the wisest choice for giving a speech that, according to Gibbs, “ ... will be about America’s relations with the Muslim world”?

Much of the debate prior to choosing Egypt likely revolved around its atrocious human rights record under President Hosni Mubarak. Since the assassination of his predecessor President Anwar Sadat in 1981, Mubarak has ruled under the provisions of Emergency Law. These statutes allow for the indefinite detention of any citizen without charge or trial, prohibit public gatherings and demonstrations, permit media censorship, and place numerous restrictions on freedom of expression.

Emergency Law has been used by the Mubarak regime, of course, to suppress any political opposition or dissent, whether from organized groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, or from individuals like human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, presidential electoral challenger Ayman Nour, or pro-Palestinian bloggers (including Philip Rizk and Diaa Eddin Gad among others).

Thousands of Egyptians have been detained as a result. Amnesty International’s 2008 Report on Egypt stated:

“Around 18,000 administrative detainees – people held by order of the Interior Ministry – remained in prison in degrading and inhumane conditions. Some had been held for more than a decade, including many whose release had been repeatedly ordered by courts.”

Egypt’s human rights record is no less deplorable than Israel’s however, and nary a word of protest is heard when any U.S. political figure visits that country. What should have given Obama pause is not Egypt’s lack of civil liberties, but rather Mubarak’s utter complicity in the 2008-2009 Israeli assault on Gaza and how this will be perceived in the Muslim world.

Mubarak’s decision to keep the critical Rafah border crossing with Gaza closed, thus preventing the vital transfer of humanitarian supplies into the territory and the sick, wounded and starving out, was widely condemned throughout the Middle East (if not by the pro-U.S. governments in the region).

The impact of the cruel, callous and inhumane posture adopted by the Egyptian government in abetting the 18-month siege and subsequent 22-day offensive on the Arab psyche should not be discounted. This war led to more than 1,400 deaths – the vast majority of whom were civilians and 300 of them children – and 5,300 injured. It saw the use of white phosphorus against the innocent, wanton destruction of civilian infrastructure and deliberate targeting of United Nations relief facilities.

It is therefore reasonable to ask if Obama’s discourse outlining a new U.S. approach to the Muslim world is best presented from Egypt.

It is true that Mubarak’s legitimacy as ruler has been severely compromised as a result of the war. We are seeing evidence of this as he lashes out against Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and Qatar in a desperate attempt to restore it. Yet, bolstering and rewarding Mubarak by giving a keynote and landmark address in his country – no matter how well-intentioned – may be misplaced.

“The scope of the speech, the desire for the president to speak, is bigger than where the speech was going to be given or who's the leadership of the country where the speech is going to be given,” said Gibbs.

Nevertheless, the image of Mubarak hosting Obama will be a telling one.

Obama might have instead chosen the most populous Muslim country and one where he spent a portion of his childhood – Indonesia. Or he might have expanded his remarks during his recent visit to Turkey. During it, he earned praise for such statements such as: “The United States is not at war with Islam and will never be” and, “The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country. I know, because I am one of them.”

That being said, what about Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest mosque in North America? The American Muslim community is unique in being one of the most diverse in the world, but one that has been subjected to an unfortunate backlash since 9/11. During the presidential campaign, Obama shunned American Muslims, failing to even visit a mosque. Although an address to this community was not one he promised, it is surely one deserved.

Whether the same can be said of Obama’s upcoming host country seems far less certain.

- Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator. He contributed this article to

Netanyahu preparando talvez uma surpresa

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Netanyahu May Be in for a Surprise

'The American leader is serious about reaching a comprehensive peace.'

By George S. Hishmeh

Benjamin Netanyahu, the right-wing Israeli prime minister, is going to Washington on Monday for talks with President Barack Obama. But he may be in for a surprise. His host is not like any other seen in the White House in the last 50 years. In fact there hasn't been a US president like him since Dwight Eisenhower ordered Israel and its two European allies - Britain and France - to pull out of the Suez Canal, which they had invaded in 1956 after Egypt's popular president Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the important waterway.

It is not that Obama is about to take a dramatic step, unparalleled since the mid-fifties by any American head of state, but all indications are that the American leader is serious about reaching a "comprehensive peace" - a term hardly used by US officials in recent administrations. (Yet, Obama has surprisingly avoided making any reaction to the three-week Israeli invasion of Gaza earlier this year that cost the lives of about 1,300 Palestinians.)

One by one, senior American officials have made public statements that signaled the new mood in Washington, touching off at times a verbal duel between the United States and Israel. In recent testimony in the House of Representatives, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared: "For Israel to get the kind of strong support it is looking for vis-à-vis Iran, it can't stay on the sidelines with respect to the Palestinians and the peace process".

Netanyahu, who has diehard extremists in his cabinet, has avoided uttering the words "two-state solution" and argued in a press interview that Israel will want the United States to check Iran's nuclear program before it makes any peaceful gestures towards its Arab neighbors.

National Security Adviser General James Jones followed the new line in a recent television interview in which he said that the Obama administration plans to fully engage the Middle East. "It's going to take American leadership and American involvement, and I think the signal is going to be that at all levels of our government we're going to do everything we can to encourage this longstanding problem to gradually come to - show clear progress."

The US permanent representative to the UN Security Council, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, echoed the same sentiments during the council's special debate on the Middle East, emphasizing that the debate "underscores the priority that the international community places on achieving a secure, lasting and comprehensive peace" and pointed out that Special Envoy George Mitchell is working "intensively... to help create the conditions for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and for the establishment of an independent, viable Palestinian state".

Another significant turning point has been the statement by Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, who told a UN meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that Israel should join the treaty, a step that some in the US believed would "threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret US agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny". She added that "universal adherence to the NPT itself, including India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea ... remains a fundamental objective of the United States".

Stephanie Cooke, author of the well-received book In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age, told me she finds it "a good idea to push the de facto weapons club to sign the NPT as hopefully a first step towards every country with nuclear weapons working towards their eventual elimination". She added, "In Israel's case it would mean officially acknowledging the existence of nuclear weapons, which would be hugely significant".

However, Cooke argued that the NPT is "an unsatisfactory agreement" because of its central bargain - namely that some signatories can have nuclear weapons in exchange for agreeing that all others have access to so-called 'peaceful' nuclear technology. "It is the trade in peaceful nuclear energy that got us into the trouble we find ourselves in now."

But the rationale here among senior aides within the Bush administration is that once Israel reaches a peace agreement with its Arab neighbours, the raison d'etre for an Iranian threat against Israel would no longer exist. Thereafter, Israel would cease to be the albatross around the American's neck.

All that may become clearer should Obama address the issue in his speech to the Muslim World from Egypt on June 4. Regrettably, that date marks the eve of the 1967 war in which Israel occupied the remainder of Palestine and key parts of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. As such, the day will serve as a stark reminder of how the West neglected to help resolve this long festering problem that has marred its relationship with the Arab and Muslim world.

- George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He contributed this article to He can be contacted at

Hezbollah hoje, amanhã Hamas


Hizballah today, Hamas tomorrow
Shourideh Molavi, The Electronic Intifada, 12 May 2009

British MP and member of the Viva Palestina aid convoy George Galloway receives a Palestinian passport from Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City, March 2009. (Mohama al-Ostaz/MaanImages)

On 20 March, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that he would not use his authority to override a decision by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to bar British MP George Galloway from entering the country. Due to speak in Toronto at a public forum entitled "Resisting War from Gaza to Kandahar," hosted by the Toronto Coalition to Stop the War, Galloway received the news of his inadmissibility to enter Canada during a speaking tour in the United States. During the tour, Galloway called for a single-state option in Israel/Palestine, one between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, in which Jews, Muslims and Christians could live as equal citizens.

The Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper deemed him a threat to Canada, first citing his opposition to the Afghanistan war, and later Galloway's material and financial support of Hamas. The decision to ban Galloway on the basis that he represents a threat to national security was sparked by his participation in the Viva Palestina aid convoy bringing medical and pharmaceutical supplies, electrical generators, food, clothing and toys, ambulances and a fire engine to the besieged and devastated Gaza Strip. In fact, some of the non-medial supplies were unloaded and transferred via the Egyptian Red Cross through the Rafah border crossing under Israel's control after being checked by the Israeli occupation forces.

Immigration minister Kenney's refusal to override the ban on Galloway came after having received a letter on 16 March by Meir Weinstein, leader of the extremist Jewish Defense League of Canada, calling Galloway a "hater" and accusing him of being a fascist because a poster promoting one of his speeches in 2006 used the colors red and black, as Rabble Online reported on 30 March. While such uncorroborated and baseless accusations are usually ignored, Rabble Online added, Kenney used it as a focus for his refusal, supporting the decision of the Canadian High Commission on the grounds that "Ottawa believes he is a member of a terrorist organization, Hamas."

Like most Western governments, the Harper government rejected the Hamas leadership from the moment of its sweeping victory in 2006 in the democratic Palestinian elections. But the attitude of pouting in the face of ideological and political opposition from elected groups is an outdated policy that has proved largely ineffective. The reality is that Galloway's meeting with Hamas is part of a broader political current that is increasingly seeking to engage organized parties in the Middle East previously marginalized and alienated from the international political arena. In fact, a growing chorus of high-profile voices in Europe and North America urge the inclusion of elected representatives in the Middle East holding strongly contrasting ideological and socio-political positions to the West.

Political evolution of Hizballah as example

In early March, the Guardian (UK) reported British Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell's announcement that the British government would authorize "carefully selected contacts" with the political wing of Hizballah represented in the Lebanese parliament. The British move to re-evaluate its position toward Hizballah and open a channel for direct talks with the political wing of the organization did not come without serious condemnation from their American allies. This was quickly diluted with the realization of the inability to ignore a party representing a significant part of the population of a country. In response to the surprising shift in policy by the British, Hizballah's deputy leader Sheik Naim Kassem welcomed the new approach, stating that the political group "has convinced the West it is a popular, authentic, and important movement that cannot be ignored," as the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on 15 April.

The reality is that Hizballah has developed at a high level, both politically and intellectually. Its political evolution from an isolated and obscure organization into a larger party with strong popular backing concerned with its public domestic image is a direct result of Hizballah's inclusion in the political process. Such engagement changed Hizballah from a secluded revolutionary party that once sought to establish an Islamic state in Lebanon, into a group engaged in daily governmental politics, social concerns, domestic economic development and the demands of its supporters' organized unions.

While maintaining a firm stance in solidarity with the Palestinian national movement and keeping its independent arsenal and militia, Hizballah now deals with a range of issues including the economic development of rural areas, privatization, financing basic goods and services, and distribution of resources, and has developed alliances with Christian leaders and secular groups, including the Lebanese Communist party. The political and intellectual evolution of Hizballah serves as an important precedent where, rather than applying a policy of alienation, international parties must instead engage popular political groups in serious dialogue. This too must be conducted in ways respecting and recognizing how intensely reflective the ideological and political platform of groups such as Hizballah is of their wide and mainly grassroots support base. Indeed, while denied by British officials, their meeting with Hizballah sets a precedent for future engagement with Hamas.

Global political momentum post-Gaza war

Pleas to include Hamas in the political process are wide-ranging, and have gained momentum at a high-level since the 22-day Gaza onslaught. As reported by Haaretz, on 31 February, former British prime minister and current international Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair argued that Hamas must be brought into the peace process, stating "my basic predisposition is that in a situation like this you talk to everybody." The "situation" Blair is referring to is the political reality that by boycotting Hamas, the global community is also sidelining the needs of the entire population of Gaza; not to mention neglecting Hamas' strong popular base among the Palestinian people as a whole. A similar plea was made by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari on 15 April, who argued that the international community cannot choose its negotiating partners if it is serious about achieving peace. Further, in letters to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 27 European Union foreign ministers, Human Rights Watch recently called for the endorsement of the United Nations fact-finding mission, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, investigating allegations of serious violations of international law in Gaza, and urged cooperation between the international community, Israel and Hamas.

The growth of such appeals to include Hamas in the political process has caused a deep concern among the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Fatah organization. "Three years of the siege against Hamas is ending," a senior PA negotiator was quoted as saying by World Net Daily on March 11, admitting concern that "Hamas is starting to be a legitimate player in the equation of the Mideast and the PA."

While neither Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nor any other US official expressed direct support for opening American dialogue with Hamas, recent support for a unity government between Hamas and Fatah has been expressed by the Obama administration. The PA negotiator also pointed out that "This is the first time the US has supported such a unity government. There was no objection from the US about Hamas joining the PA."

Hamas tomorrow

To some extent, political and cultural figures are already talking to Hamas. Some observers trace the group's recent international dialogue to Jimmy Carter's first visit in April 2008, whereby the former US president met with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus. By the time Carter met with Meshal in December for a second time, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had confirmed that Paris held talks with Hamas, Norway's deputy foreign minister, Raymond Johansan, admitted meeting with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and World News Daily reported that Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum confirmed meeting with delegations "from the European Parliament: from France, Italy, and Norway."

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu followed suit in May 2008 by meeting with Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip where he led a UN fact-finding mission into the killing of 19 Palestinian civilians in a 2006 Israeli artillery attack. Most recently Northern Irish Republican leader Gerry Adams also held talks with the Hamas prime minister, and urged international dialogue with the organization after describing a scene of human and infrastructural devastation with destroyed hospitals, schools and homes.

As reported by the Guardian (UK) on 9 April, Adams pointed to Hamas' massive popular support as a reason to politically engage the group, stating "The refusal to recognize the outcome of the ballot box in the Palestinian territories is bizarre; that they challenge people to go into elections and then when they go into elections they don't recognize it."

At a parliamentary level, serious European attention is also directed to the question of politically engaging Hamas. The European Union added Hamas to its list of terrorist organizations in 2003, and while keeping direct ties with the political party, it froze their assets in Europe. However, although official EU policy is to boycott Hamas, it has been reported that members of parliament from France, Britain, Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe have held direct meetings with Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip, Damascus and Beirut since the second half of 2008. Considering the extent of coordinated global efforts at weeding out the organization, these meetings are conducted at a high level and are intended to encourage more Europeans to recognize Hamas as a movement with democratic legitimacy that needs to be included in any political solution aimed at alleviating the devastating situation of the Palestinian people. As stated by Irish EU parliamentarian Chris Andrew after having attended a meeting on 14 March in Damascus, and reported by Deutsche Presse-Agentur, "the more the delay, the more the suffering."

In addition to such visits, European parliamentarians are also finding ways of bringing Hamas into European political spaces, most recently in the form of a video-conference from Damascus address by Meshal to the British parliament, organized by former Labour Cabinet minister Clare Short and Liberal Democrat representative Lord Alderdice.

Compared to European circles, the debate around political engagement with Hamas has been less seriously engaged with by political players in North America. That said, US Senator John Kerry's visit to the devastated Gaza Strip in February received limited visibility, particularly after it was revealed that the former presidential candidate accepted a letter for President Barack Obama. Unlike claims by hysteric mainstream media outlets in the US, the acceptance of the letter is far from "legitimizing Hamas;" it did however open a space for discussion on political engagement with the organization. Also, The Chicago Tribune recently reported that the Obama administration indicated a potential financial engagement with Hamas, by asking Congress for minor changes in US law allowing federal aid to continue to Palestinians should Hamas officials become part of a reconciled Palestinian government, however unlikely.

Since Kerry's visit, The Boston Globe reported on 14 March, nine former senior US officials and one current adviser are urging the Obama administration to talk with leaders of Hamas to determine whether the group can be persuaded to disarm and join a "peaceful" Palestinian government. However limited the compromise, calls for deeper international engagement with Hamas by top US military officials and political advisers is a major departure from current US policy, one which took root during the latest Gaza war. During the last days of the recent Gaza attacks, President Obama was urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine dialogue as an alternative to the counter-productive policy of ostracizing Hamas, according to the Guardian (UK). Similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1970s, the Guardian added, initiating contact between Hamas and US intelligence services through "secret envoys [or] multilateral six-party talk-like approaches" is being considered by the new administration.

Despite its growth, the move toward engaging Hamas is taking too long. Present dialogue is far from the political involvement necessary to meet the needs and satisfy the just claims of the Palestinian people, particularly those in the Gaza Strip. Reluctant Arab and Western governments must recognize that high-level dialogue with Hamas is going to happen. It must. At both a humanitarian and political level, there is no way of providing the required aid to the besieged population of Gaza, or of prompting the stalled dialogue on a Palestinian state without Hamas. In fact, the raw aggression of Operation Cast Lead generated massive popular support for Hamas from the Palestinian population across the dividing borders. The results of the public opinion poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communications Center in January 2009 found a rise in Hamas's popularity, particularly in the West Bank. Public trust in the Hamas movement, faith in its leadership, and satisfaction of the performance of its government swelled after Israel's latest Gaza operation. Rest assured, Hamas isn't going anywhere.

At this point, it's just a matter of playing the costly waiting game.

Shourideh Molavi has worked with numerous Palestinian-Arab civil society organizations located in Gaza City, the West Bank and inside Israel proper. Her most recent post was at MADA al-Carmel - the Arab Center for Applied Social Research, an independent research institute located in Haifa, Israel.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

olhando para baixo!!!


[Bethlehem, May 12. Image via Getty]

A Palestinian woman peers from a hole at a house near a UN school Pope Benedict XVI is due to visit at the Aida refuge camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 12, 2009. Pope Benedict XVI heads to the occupied West Bank on Wednesday to celebrate mass in Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, meet refugees and hold talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI (Photo credit should read MARCO LONGARI/AFP/Getty Images)

cobrir os crimes israelitas na Faixa de Gaza com a ajuda das Nações Unidas


Covering up Israel's Gaza crimes with UN help
Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 13 May 2009

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon meets with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the UN in New York, 6 May 2009. (Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo)

In my last article, I considered how UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon might handle the inquiry into Israeli attacks on UN facilities in the occupied Gaza Strip last winter. I hoped for the best but feared the worst given press reports that Ban had been told by the United States not to publish the report in full lest that harm the "peace process."

Unfortunately, the worst fears were fully justified as Ban published and sent to the Security Council only a 27-page summary of the 184-page document submitted to him by a board of inquiry led by a former head of Amnesty International.

Moreover, Ban rejected a key recommendation that there be a full independent investigation into numerous killings and injuries caused to UN personnel and Palestinian civilians during the Israeli assault.

The board issued the recommendation because its own mandate was specifically limited to examining just nine incidents (Israel launched thousands of land, sea and air attacks on the Gaza Strip over 22 days). The board noted that "it was not within its scope or capacity to reach conclusions on all aspects of these incidents relevant to assessment of the responsibility of the parties in accordance with the rules and principles of international humanitarian law."

These limitations meant that the board was "unable to investigate fully all circumstances related to the deaths and injuries" during several incidents including an attack in the immediate vicinity of school run by UNRWA -- the UN agency for Palestine refugees -- in Jabaliya in which dozens of people were killed, and another incident on 27 December which killed nine students from UNRWA's Gaza Training Center immediately across the road from the main UN compound in Gaza City. Other incidents mentioned included ones in which white phosphorus shells fell on UN schools and facilities and densely populated urban areas.

Now here is the crucial part, included in recommendation 11 in the published summary: "where civilians have been killed and there are allegations of violations of international humanitarian law, there should be thorough investigations, full investigations, and, where required, accountability." Such investigations, the summary states, should be carried out by an "impartial inquiry mandated, and adequately resourced, to investigate allegations of violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza and southern Israel by the [Israeli army] and by Hamas and other Palestinian militants."

The board of inquiry corroborated the already existing masses of evidence collected by local and international human rights organizations, eyewitness accounts from UN and other humanitarian personnel, and the legal examination by the distinguished (but vilified by Israel and the US) UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk.

And yet none of this death and destruction, not the use of white phosphorus in flagrant violation of international law, not even against the UN (if that is all the secretary-general cares about) merited any further examination.

In his 4 May letter to the Security Council accompanying the summary, Ban wrote, "I do not plan any further inquiry," adding perhaps as an excuse that "the government of Israel has agreed to meet with United Nations Secretariat officials to address the Board's recommendations, in as far as they related to Israel."

Israel, however, made its position very clear in a foreign ministry statement: "Israel rejects the criticism in the committee's summary report, and determines that in both spirit and language, the report is tendentious, patently biased and ignores the facts." Israel accused the board of inquiry of preferring the claims of Hamas, "a murderous terror organization and by doing so has misled the world." Would Israeli representatives say anything different when they meet the secretary-general's staff?

Ban could even have called Israel's bluff and said that since Israel did not view the current report as sufficiently thorough, he would indeed order a full, impartial inquiry as recommended.

But the reality is that Ban has learned all the "right" lessons from the past. In 1996, then UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali published -- against American "advice" -- a UN report that demolished Israeli claims that its shelling on 18 April that year of the UN peacekeeping base in Qana, Lebanon, killing 106 people, was an accident. Boutros-Ghali effectively paid with his job as the Clinton Administration vetoed his bid for a second term. In 2002, after the Israeli army destroyed much of Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, the Security Council ordered then Secretary-General Kofi Annan to carry out an investigation. But Israel refused to allow the inquiry team into the country, and so Annan, rather than going back to the Security Council to ask for its support in carrying out his mandate, simply told the investigation team to disband and go home.

Ban is taking things even further. He apparently created the board of inquiry not in order to find out the truth, but only as a political exercise to cover himself from the charge of total inaction. But the board of inquiry members did take their mandate very seriously and honestly. By rejecting their call for accountability, Ban has in effect rejected and betrayed his own mandate to uphold the UN Charter and international humanitarian law.

And on what grounds did the secretary-general decide to publish only 27 pages? Most likely the rest of the report was not only damning to Israel, but would have exposed his decision to block further investigation as even more nakedly cynical.

It is especially puzzling since Ban himself had described the board of inquiry as "independent." In response to allegations he had "watered down" the document, he stated: "I do not have any authority to edit or change any wording" of its "conclusion and recommendations."

He did much more than that: he withheld 85 percent of the report! It may be true that the report is just an "internal document and is not for public release" as Ban wrote in his letter, and that the inquiry "is not a judicial body or court of law."

But the Security Council -- the UN's most authoritative body -- is not the public, and it ought at least to be able to see it even if the public cannot. Of course it is very likely that by some means or another some members of the council do have the full report, and it is likely that Israel has it as well, otherwise how did the pressures on the secretary-general not to publish it originate in the first place?

The UN Charter places on the secretary-general the responsibility to inform the Security Council of grave breaches of the charter so that it can act. Ban is actually hiding evidence of grave breaches in order to spare the Security Council the embarrassment of having to act against Israel which remains as ever the special case enjoying full impunity.

In the absence of any credible explanation for stopping even the 15 members of the Security Council from officially seeing the full report the presumption must be that Ban is engaging in a cover-up to protect Israel and therefore his own job. Equally puzzling is the acquiescence of the Security Council to this scandal. It is known that Ban's action has been prompted, or fully approved by three permanent members. Why did the 12 others keep quiet?

In Gaza, there are numerous, credible and mounting allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including testimonies published in the Israeli media from Israeli soldiers themselves. The ongoing blockade preventing the movement of basic supplies and people in and out of an occupied territory is a prima facie breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Unlike other alleged war crimes in other parts of the world, the evidence is all there requiring little effort to find, including numerous statements from Israeli leaders showing that they had the motivation and intent to harm civilians as an act of punishment or revenge.

Yet once again, when it comes to Israel, UN officials actively collude in protecting the perpetrators. How could an investigation of an aggression which involved severe war crimes, deliberate attacks on civilians, destruction of civilian infrastructure, usage of banned weapons, attacks on UN installations, siege and deprivation be quietly shelved upon the discretion of the secretary-general alone?

The answer may be simple, but alarmingly revealing; the office of the secretary -general carries with it so much prestige, privilege and material reward, it seems not many can resist the temptation of holding on to the job at any price even if that price is paid in innocent people's blood. The hunger for a second term requires so much obsequiousness and opportunism that the holder of this position becomes a burden rather than an asset, an obstacle to the UN functioning effectively.

It is not only Palestinians who are the victims of such outrageous and immoral actions, but the last vestiges of credibility of the UN itself. I hold -- as do most Palestinians -- enormous admiration and respect for the work of UNRWA and its personnel who remained under Israeli bombardment in Gaza risking their lives along with the communities they serve. These UN personnel also deserve better; they too are betrayed by the cowardice of those above them.

Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan at the United Nations. This essay first appeared in The Jordan and is republished with the author's permission.

Lembrando Jenin

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

Remembering Jenin

p 'Jenin: Such ordinary homes. Such ordinary people..' (Reuters/file)

By Stephen Williams

The Martyrs' Cemetery is but a few meters from Jenin Refugee Camp. On a warm, sunny day I stood in front of the memorial to the victims of the massacre of 2002 and remembered them, as I had long promised to do. I remembered the forgotten.

It is not an imposing monument; had the victims been Israeli, a more grandiose memorial would have been built, perhaps with a museum, perhaps with a carefully-maintained eternal flame. I was disappointed at first. Is this what I had travelled from Occupied Jerusalem to see? Through Ramallah, Nablus and those checkpoints manned by bored, surly adolescent soldiers?

But then I understood; the victims were ordinary people- men, women and children- trying to live ordinary lives, until they came face to face with an extraordinary interruption; the appearance of the highly-mechanised, US- resourced Israel Defence Force at their very their doorsteps. Most of them died in or just outside their homes. Such ordinary homes. Such ordinary people. No huge, imposing monument for them.

The story of the invasion, the heroic resistance and the demolition of Jenin Camp is related in Ramzy Baroud’s "Searching Jenin". The author had written a message to me, “Remember Jenin”, inside the cover of my copy and I was here; to remember.

It had begun on 3 April 2002 with an artillery barrage. The next day, access was blocked; there was no escape for the residents. Apaches, Cobras and tanks did their work. And bulldozers. One of the drivers, known as Kurdi Bear, enjoyed his fifteen minutes of celebrity as he recounted the relish with which he had destroyed the homes of the residents.

“If I’d been given three weeks, I would have had more fun,” he said. As it happens he had only ten days to complete his grisly work while the world’s population watched, some uncaring, some impotently angry, some with smug satisfaction, from outside.

Ramzy Baroud records the names of over sixty shahid, though it is likely that there were many more. The IDF had been able to work in total secrecy during the period the camp was sealed. The camera crews waited beyond the road blocks until it was done.

In retrospect, the attack on Jenin appears to be a ghastly dress-rehearsal for Gaza, the closure, the refusal to allow media access, the executions, the demolitions; and the excuses and the denials. Jenin was “a nest of vipers”, Gaza a “hotbed of fundamentalism”. The IDF is the most moral army in the world.

And just as the UN was coerced by Israel and the US into abandoning an enquiry into Jenin, it would be unwise to expect a different response to Gaza. The victims of the Gaza are no less ordinary than those of Jenin.

But one aspect is different; there is hardly any photographic evidence of what happened during the Jenin assault; we have only moving testimonies and photographs of the aftermath. In Gaza, on the other hand and much to the unconcealed fury of the Israeli government and its apologists, footage was broadcast, some of it live. The media ban had failed. 21st century technology had played a unique role in an old conflict. And any activist here in the UK will tell you what a devastating effect this has had on public opinion.

Exploring with my Palestinian friend the refugee camp, I confirmed that the houses had been re-built by the UN. He said they were better, much better, than what had been there before. But Jenin Refugee Camp is still a refugee camp. The streets are narrow, the houses small, the facilities for the children, well over half of the population, depressingly limited.

And they are still refugees. Their homes are across the border. Their fathers’ bones call for them.

I remembered another, surprising, victim; my fellow-Briton Ian Hook, a UN engineer employed in the rebuilding. He was shot dead by the Israelis during the reconstruction; his mobile phone, apparently, looked like a gun.

As in all Palestinian refugee camps, the shahid are revered; their posters adorn the shabby streets. I was observing one of them, of two young men in the familiar military pose, when an old man called and invited us into his home.

The two boys were his sons, assassinated by the IDF years after the invasion. Jenin’s agony, Palestine’s agony, did not end with the demolition of the camp, nor did resistance. As he told the story, I couldn’t find the words to console him and so I put my arms around him. He was moved and kissed me.

As I left, I turned to look at him at his door and put my hand on my heart.” I shall remember,” I said in a language he did not understand. He returned the gesture.

Back at the Martyrs’ Graveyard, I stood again in front of that little memorial, so mean and yet now so splendid. I remembered the shahid of Jenin; thirteen year old Mohammed Omar Hawashin, killed by a sniper; sixty-five year old Muhammed Masoud Abu al- Sibah, crushed to death when an Israeli bulldozer destroyed his home while he was still in it; Miriam Abdullah Wishahe, a fifty-two year old woman who also killed by a sniper. And many, many more. I remembered the shebab who held the mightiest army in the region at bay for all those terrible, long bloody days, matching their AK47s against Apaches.

And I said a Christian prayer for the souls of the shahid.

- Stephen Williams is based in the UK. He contributed this article to

No context:: Fatah, Hamas e a língua viciada

fonte:Palestine Chronicle

No Context: Fatah, Hamas and Flawed Language

'Mahmoud Abbas controls the West Bank? Is Barzak serious?

By Ramzy Baroud

From a distance, the struggle between Hamas and Fatah appears commonplace, a typical third world country's political scuffle over interpretation of democracy that went out of control, or simply a 'power struggle' between two political rivals vying for international aid and recognition. In fact, the conflict may appear as if it popped out of nowhere and will continue as long as the seemingly power-hungry Palestinians carry on with their self-defeating fight.

Therefore, it’s typical to read such deceptive news reports as that of Ibrahim Barzak of the Associated Press: “Hundreds of Palestinian patients have been trapped in the Gaza Strip, unable to travel abroad for crucial treatment for cancer and other diseases, because of political infighting between Gaza's militant Hamas rulers and their Palestinian rivals.”

Such sinister terminology as “Gaza’s Hamas rulers” – which happened to refer to a democratically elected government – is now in common use, in most Western news agencies, and those who readily recycle their reports.

Barzak makes no mention of the Israeli factor in the decried Palestinian rivalries, and the only reference to the US in his report was that of the “U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which controls the West Bank.”

Is Barzak serious? Even if we willingly overlook the fact that Palestinian rivalry has little influence on Israel’s decision to block the Gaza borders, thus subjugate its inhabitants, and purposely disregarded the US-led international campaign to isolate Gaza and its government, how can one allow such a misreading of so obvious a fact: since when does Abbas “control” the West Bank? What should one make of the Israeli military occupation of several decades, the hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements, the countless checkpoints, ‘bypass roads’, numerous ‘military zones’ and the giant Israeli wall, an entire matrix of control, in fact, which has been described by many leading international observers as “apartheid”?

True, the situation in Gaza has reached such harrowing levels, that the injustices committed in the West Bank are being relegated as if non-consequential. But the fact is, the Israeli assault on Palestinian freedom, human rights and international law in the West Bank never ceased for a moment, even when thousands of Palestinians in Gaza were being brutally murdered.

But neither the inhumane siege and murder of Gazans, nor the suffocating occupation – with all of its lethal and non-lethal manifestations – of the West Bank seem to awaken the curiosity of many, who foolishly, or cunningly blame the victim for his own misery.

Of course that shouldn’t mean that Hamas and Fatah, or any other Palestinian party should be absolved from their own missteps, such as violations of human rights, infringement on freedom of speech or any other aspect of which they possess even if an iota of control. If individuals from Hamas violated human rights in Gaza, then such actions should be recognized, condemned and corrected. The same is true when Abbas’ government continues to violate the edicts of democracy in whatever limited jurisdiction it has; that too must be recognized and duly censured. But for the media to make such outrageous claims, whether indirectly blaming Hamas for the deadly Gaza siege – and its consequences – or haphazardly granted Abbas a position of ‘control’ over the occupied West Bank, is certainly contemptible.

The manipulation of the term “democracy” is also worthy of mentioning. An unsuspected media consumer would never guess that Hamas was elected democratically, and that a democratic government with a majority in the parliament cannot possibly stage a ‘coup’ against itself.

That same reader would find it hard to believe that the legal term in office of celebrated president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has already expired, and its renewal would require re-elections or the consent of the Hamas-dominated parliament.

President Abbas, however, is reportedly assembling a new government, which is expected to, once again, exclude the majority-party in the parliament

The government, if formed, will likely to be headed by Salam Fayyad, whose international prestige stems solely from the fact that top US officials, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has praised him as trustworthy. Fayyad was never elected and is little popular among Palestinians.

More, even if Hamas agrees to Abbas’ appointed government, it would be impossible for the parliament to convene and vote, for a large number of elected Palestinian legislators are political prisoners in Israel. That too seems too trivial a context to mention.

When a story is dominated by selective terminology, numbers, names and dates without proper and balanced context, a media consumer is sold nothing but misinformation.

Consider, for example, the report of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), published in late 2008, which ranked and classified 167 countries based on various democratic indicators into four categories: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes. The Palestinian Authority was ranked number 85, digressing from flawed democracy into hybrid regime category. The explanation? According to the report: “The Islamist Hamas movement that won the parliamentary election in early 2006, and Fatah, who hold on to the presidency have failed to bridge their differences. Instead, factional infighting has worsened in recent years, culminating in the takeover of power in the Gaza Strip by Hamas while the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, of Fatah has tried to maintain his grip on the West Bank. Political violence has worsened.”

The word, “Israel”, was not mentioned. Not once.

Despite the fact that “factional fighting”, and failure to “bridge their differences” are largely attributed to external pressures (for example: Israeli and American ultimatums to Abbas, violence against Hamas, and conditional international aid to both), Palestinians are ranked as an independent nation in complete control of its own affairs. Meanwhile, Israel was ranked number 38, merely a “flawed’ democracy, perhaps for the sheer fact that it recognizes itself as a “Jewish state” and discriminates against anyone who doesn’t fit the criteria.

“If you control the language, you control the debate,” it’s often said. But when the perception of an entire nation depends on how terms are coined and sentences are constructed, then language takes on other meanings, deceptive, demonizing and immoral.

- Ramzy Baroud ( is an author and editor of His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza The Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London)

os refugiados palestinianos e as eleições no Libano


Palestinian Refugees and Lebanon's Election

'Amount of abuse of Palestinians .. is at a level that you cannot even imagine.'

By Franklin Lamb - Wavel Palestinian Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

"My work here is very difficult. To be honest with you there isn't a single day when I don't leave work completely depressed, sometimes in tears. The amount of abuse of Palestinians in Lebanon is at a level that you cannot even imagine unless you live here. At the end of the day I go home and sit. And think. How is this possible? I think of these Palestinians and feel they are so pale and patient and 'moderate' compared to what I feel. I tend to keep quiet but what I feel inside is shocking and I am not comfortable describing it. This place is close to exploding." (European NGO social worker who assists children of NON-ID Palestinians in Ein el Helwe Refugee Camp).

Beirut’s Casino de Liban north of Beirut at Maameltein, perched above the Mediterranean north of Jounieh, was offering as late as 3 a.m. Saturday morning May 9, 2009, 2 to 1 odds that US President Barak Obama will drop out of the sky a la C. Rice and H. Clinton in an 11th hour ‘hail Mary’ to score a last minute goal for Israel. Another US ‘quick drop-in’ to shape the ‘US Ruling Team’ into a ‘US Wining Team’ during President Obama’s upcoming visit to the region.

Will He and will It Work?

Hard to say, but the likes of David Hale, Michele Sison, Jeff Feltman, Madeleine Albright, Susan Rice, Alenjandro Wolf (from the sidelines) David Welch, John Burns and David Shapiro - various USAID and other officials do not appear to have built up their squad sufficiently and the election is in less than one month away. Signs of desperation are wafting down from Mount Lebanon and Awkar, site of the US Embassy.

Soon George Mitchell and his expanding entourage will give it a go and maybe, according to this morning’s rumors, President Obama himself, dues ex machina, since the State Department knows he is way more popular among Arabs and Muslims than is current US policy.

As Lebanon wonders if the much admired ‘gifted one’ will appear, the US coaching staff insists that it has been trying not to interfere in the internal affairs of this independent, democratic and sovereign country and explains during carefully culled media interviews, that before the election, none of them will engage or even dialogue with Lebanon’s Hezbollah led Resistance or with Hamas. Some here believe that after the election they may be obliged to seek meetings with both.

The job of recent visiting American officials has been to convince Lebanese voters that PM Fuad Sinioria’s Campaign slogan: “Our policy is to negotiate; theirs is to deter,” as he runs for Parliament from the voter and cash rich Hariri home base in Sidon, will deliver votes. The problem is that many Lebanese feel Lebanon is far better off with deterrence against Israeli aggression than what Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil calls “fake negotiations carefully designed in Washington and Tel Aviv to achieve nothing”.

Arriving Americans campaign advisors are also expressing alarm over the number of alleged Israeli spies that are being caught - on average of one a week since last January. The US concern appears not to be that there are an awfully lot of Israeli spies in Lebanon, but rather the fact that since the July 2006 War Hezbollah and the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) seem to be working well together and have revamped the ISF unit into Lebanon’s first effective spy snatching outfit.

The implications of this Opposition-Majority cooperation are sobering for the White House. If Hezbollah can so effectively integrate and even merge its intelligence capabilities with those of the Lebanese government to catch Israeli spies, what if there were to be a linkage of Hezbollah’s military capability as some sort of an adjunct to the Lebanese Ministry of Defense? Would this integration force the end of the “Hezbollah has a militia!” chorus that the US team and Israel repeat ad nausea?

“There goes the US ‘Hezbollah Militia’ Card” explained Adham, an energetic Palestinian AUB student who operates a part-time mobile DVD business (lest the cops catch him and it costs him a bribe) selling just released pirated Hollywood movies (only 2000LL or $ 1.34 each!) on Hamra Street, explains: “I am sure Israel would love to do to Lebanon what it did to Gaza. If they did the US and the international community would say destroying Lebanon yet again was “unhelpful to the peace process”. ---- Them! Our ‘peace process’ is now deterrence. If Hezbollah and Lebanon’s military linked and perhaps even merged, we can provide for our deterrence and security after the election.”

Watching from the Sidelines

As the Lebanese get ready to vote, more than 10% of its population, three generations of whom were born in Lebanon, wait, watch and listen.

Still possessing almost no civil rights including voting, home ownership, employment, secondary state education, health care, identification documents, marriage registration, places to bury their deceased loved ones or equal protection of Lebanese laws, Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees nonetheless have a huge stake in next month’s election results. The 420,000 UNRWA registered Palestinians, more than half living in squalor and jammed packed into 12 camps and half a dozen ‘Gatherings’ barely subsist, the wretched refuge of Zionist ethnic cleansings in 1947-48, and 1967. They are the survivors of various illegal population transfers as well as massacres at Sabra-Shatila (1982), Qana I (1996), Qana II ( 2006), Hula (Burg Shemali Camp 1982) Tel al-Zaayter Camp (1975) to mention a few.

“We are eternally one with our Palestinian brothers and sisters!”

Were one to credit, as Hadith or Gospel, recently published Lebanese political Party Platforms, one might imagine hearing “Happy Days are Here Again!” being hummed in Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugee Camps and whistled by the decreasing number of ‘camp kids’ who bother trudging to school.

Judging from the sanguine responses offered by would-be Parliamentary delegates who responded to a Sabra-Shatila Foundation Candidate Questionnaire last month, Lebanon’s Palestinians could be forgiven for lapsing into fantasy and mentally packing their belongings. Perhaps even convening family gatherings, and day dreaming about arranging transport south to return to their homes across the ‘blue line’ in Palestine. Damping this euphoria, in addition to decades of broken Lebanese government promises of “ providing dignity and help for our Palestinian brethren”, would be the words of the five times Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri. His ubiquitous election billboard photos reminds one these days that before his February 14, 2005 murder, Hariri sometimes told voters, followed with a wide grin: “In Lebanon, believe nothing of what you are told and only half of what you see”.

It is probable that Martyr Hariri would have included current Political Party Pledges to Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugees.

Our Word is Our Bond!

All Lebanese political parties state unequivocally that following next month’s elections they want to grant the Palestinians full basic rights. All the Parties reject the US-Israel project of Tawtin (naturalization). All the Parties and Candidates solemnly pledge that they will work to implement the Palestinians internationally acknowledged (UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (12/11/1948) legal Right to Return ( Haqq al-Awada) to Palestine: (Article 11):

"Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

Simultaneously, all the parties blame their opponents for obstruction and preventing the implementation of their own Party’s trustworthy altruism.

The pro-US March 14 Future Movement (Tayyar Al Mustaqbal) majority Palestine Plank states: “We pledge to return to the traditional role of Lebanon among Arab countries contributing to the cause of Arab solidarity that is the first condition for the Arabs to have their rights, and the total commitment to support the Palestinian people’s struggle and unity under the leadership of the PLO to attain an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as capital, following the “two states” solution and the Arab peace initiative”. That sounds pretty good.

It continues: “We are committed to rejecting the resettlement (Tawtin) of the Palestinian brothers in Lebanon, and favor a constitutional amendment proposed by March 14 MPs regarding this subject 6 months earlier and that requires the unanimity of the parliament in order to amend the constitutional article of the resettlement” (of Palestinians in Lebanon). Also not bad.

A ‘Christian’ Political Problem?

The Free Patriotic Movement, under the leadership of General Michel Aoun, electorally allied with Hezbollah since 2006, also rejects Tawtin and favors the blood stream issue of Right of Return, but FPM is not quite so public about other Palestinian planks.

FPM’s public stance (party operatives speak more encouragingly in private) is impacted by the fact that Lebanon’s Christians are split roughly in half between supporters of the pro-US-Hariri Future Movement and the Hezbollah led Opposition. Consequently, Michel Aoun’s FPM needs to convince more right wing Christians to support him. Committing the Party to full Palestinian rights will not achieve that goal. To some of these voters the very word Palestinian brings back bleak memories of bitter years and personal loses.

Aoun is also in a tough election fight with the likes of fellow Maronites Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces (who, under Israeli, supply, command, control and attempted cover-up, perpetrated the 1982 Sabra-Shatila Massacre, some of whom with other gangs participated in the slaughter at Tel al-Zaatar, and even encouraged some Christian Lebanese Army Brigades to go AWOL and join the Syrian organized Camp Wars (1985-88) against Lebanon’s Palestinian Refugee Camps. That very black chapter of Lebanon’s history was led by long time Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri and his Amal Militia, currently allied with Aoun.

Some in today’s FPM don’t like to recall the fact that the siege of Tel a Zaatar Palestinian Camp, which became a massacre, was the result of a plan drawn up by the then leader of the Lebanese party, Free Patriotic Movement, and by none other than today’s leader of FPM, Michel Aoun who was the army commander of the area in 1975-76.

The public opinion at that time among many Lebanese was expressed in Phalange Party slogans and statements such as those contained in the September 1975 Phalange Party Communiqués which viciously attacked the Palestinian presence in Lebanon, and even advocated that Lebanon should dissociate itself from Arabism. The Phalange party spread its messages around Beirut using hate speech Graffiti.

One popular slogan from the late 1970’s was: It is a duty for each Lebanese to kill a Palestinian", reminiscent of today’s “Kill the Arabs” graffiti by some Zionist groups.

The FPM is not about to rile these voters by rubbing the salt of Palestinian Rights into their wounds. Moreover, Aoun’s FMP is also battling for Christian votes with Amin Gemayal’s right wing Phalange party and his clan’s 61 years of antipathy towards Palestinians, especially at Tel a Zaatar.

The FPM Platform demands that the Palestinians give up their weapons (i.e. certain armed Palestinian groups such as Fatah Intifada and Ahmad Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (arch foe of the increasingly well armed Kataeb-Phalange-Lebanese Forces and Druze Militias) and presumably armed groups inside Bedawi and Ein el Helwe camps). Finally, the FPM half heartedly promises the Palestinians the right to work, but “to be given on the basis of what Lebanon economic needs require.”

Some analysts in Lebanon feel that civil war era memories and wounds have yet to heal here and that while the public generally supports the Palestinians, strong anti-Palestinian sentiments still fester just under the skin of some powerful Lebanese politicians and their widely extended families. This may be part of the reason they have failed for many years to act to relieve Palestinian suffering. One cannot visit the Camps and associate with the current younger Camp generation without feeling that, mired in near hopelessness, they are tragically paying dearly for their elder’s unsettled accounts.

Hezbollah: Palestinians Last Best Hope?

Hezbollah’s political stance towards Palestine is well known and its support among Lebanon’s Palestinians is strong within all 9 PLO factions still existing here. Even though they cannot offer any votes in the June election, secular Palestinians want the Party of God to do much more it for them if forms the next government.

Hezbollah intends to liberate Palestine and escort Lebanon’s Palestinians home. That’s the only reason it’s still on the US political terrorism list. If it abandons the Palestinian cause it immediately comes off the list according to increasingly numbers of western diplomats seeking dialog with the Party of God.

Hezbollah’s Party platform focuses on improving and developing Social Services for Lebanese citizens and Palestinian Refugees.

Mohammed Ra'ad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, presented Hezbollah’s election platform on April 3, 2009:

"The resistance is determined to complete the liberation of the remaining occupied lands, and particularly the Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfar Shuba. We believe that any strategy of defense must integrate the current capabilities of the resistance and the capabilities of the Lebanese army, enabling it to stand up to Israeli aspirations regarding our lands and our water sources. We affirm our enmity to Israel, our support and assistance to our Palestinian brothers to liberate their land and the holy places…

"In light of our conviction that the state cannot shirk its caring role nor behave in an indifferent manner or be apathetic towards the needs of the citizens, it is the duty of the state to improve services in the field of health, education, housing, and social care."

Hezbollah intends that Palestinian Refugees receive these social services and pledges “generalizing the principle of healthcare and preventive medicine”, which is an urgent need in the Palestinian Camps despite UNWRA’s ever diminishing, underfunded but noble efforts.

Hezbollah’s electoral Platform also pledges “Backing efforts to develop and reform the National Fund for Social Security and expanding the circle of its beneficiaries.”

Palestinian social workers and researchers at Beirut’s Mar Elias Palestinian Camp, including renowned Palestinian scholar Dr. Samer Suheil, emphasize that including the Camp populations in Lebanon’s social security system is essential to help sustain them until they return to Palestine.

Hezbollah agrees, and is pledging to fulfill its Party Platform.

- Franklin Lamb works with the Sabra-Shatila Foundation in Beirut. He contributed this article to Contact him at:

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