On November 29th, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, held its seventh congress. The congress had been presented by some as an opportunity to shake up the entrenched and out of touch leadership of the party and renew the Palestinian national struggle.
Such a shakeup is desperately needed. Palestinians in the occupied territories have been denied a democratic voice since the 2006 legislative elections and Fatah party chairman Mahmoud Abbas has overstayed his term as PA president by eight years. Abbas has faced mounting criticism over his continued pursuit of a failed negotiations strategy and increasingly autocratic style of governance. However, on the first day of the congress, delegates unanimously reappointed Abbas as chairman of Fatah for another five-year term. Continue reading “Seventh Fatah Conference Underscores Profound Disconnect Between Abbas and his People”
Fires raged across Israel and the occupied West Bank last month, causing serious damage to property and destroying thousands of acres of natural forests. Immediately, Israeli government officials and members of the Israeli media began blaming Palestinians for setting the fires, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing them as an “arson intifada” and the police positing that they were lit on “nationalistic grounds.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett took the fires as an opportunity to deny Palestinian claims to their homeland, stating that “only those to whom this land does not belong could burn it.” Continue reading “Israeli Leaders Blame Palestinians for Fires Without a Shred of Evidence”
For many Palestinians, the experience of being displaced is not a singular event in the past but an ongoing process. Many Palestinians who became refugees in the Nakba in 1948 were displaced once again in the 1967 June War, Black September in 1971, or the Lebanese Civil War. The Syrian Civil war is the latest incident of mass Palestinian displacement. Syria was once home to more than half a million Palestinian refugees and was an important political, economic and social base for the exiled Palestinian national movement. While lacking citizenship, Palestinian refugees received relatively wide-ranging rights in Syria. However, fleeing alongside Syrians during the ongoing civil war, Palestinian Refugees from Syria (PRS) have faced special hardship due to their Palestinian identity and lack of citizenship. Continue reading “Syria’s Palestinian Refugees: Stateless and Under Threat”
Image: “The enemy’s gas is occupation” [via Jordan BDS]
Recently, Jordan’s government-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a 15 year, $10 billion deal to import Israeli-extracted liquid natural gas. In the eyes of the appointed government of the Hashemite Kingdom, the deal is a boon. Jordan is a notoriously resource poor country, having to import 96% of its energy needs from other countries. In previous decades, Saddam Hussain’s Iraq and Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt provided subsidized fuel to fill the country’s energy needs. However, according to the Jordanian government, the loss of these providers and the damage to gas pipelines due to recent unrest in the Sinai have caused NEPCO to rack up billions of dollars in debt. At the same time, energy prices have steadily risen for Jordanians. The government claims that this deal will lower energy costs and save NEPCO $600 million a year.
Despite these supposed benefits, the deal has caused widespread and unified protests of a scale unseen in Jordan since the start of the Arab Spring. Continue reading “Anti-Democratic Energy: Jordan’s Recent Gas Deal with Israel.”
Around one fifth of the population of the Jewish state of Israel is not actually Jewish. Most of these around two million people are the descendants of the Palestinians who remained after the 1947-1949 ethnic cleansing that resulted in the founding of Israel. Because they are not Jewish, these Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated as second-class citizens and subject to dozens of discriminatory laws. However, even within this minority, the laws and policies of the state distinguish and discriminate based on religious and ethnic identity. Most recently, attempts have been made to drive a wedge between Christian and Muslim Palestinians within Israel and the occupied West Bank. Continue reading “Playing Identity Politics: Israel’s Targeting of Palestinian Christians”
This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video in which he stated that those opposed to Israeli settlements in the West Bank are in fact advocating “ethnic cleansing” of Jews. In the video, Netanyahu attempts to contrast this nefarious goal with the supposed liberal pluralism of Israel by referencing Israel’s two million strong Palestinian population. The two-minute video earned an “unusually forceful” rebuke from the U.S. State Department with a spokesperson calling Netanyahu’s terminology “inappropriate and unhelpful.”
It is duplicitous for Netanyahu to use such terminology given the fact that Israel was founded as a result of an ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Zionist forces in 1948 which caused the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. The subsequent barring of reentry of these Palestinians, the destruction of more than 400 villages, and the setting of booby-traps and posting of border patrols to further discourage Palestinian return cemented this ethnic cleansing and the Jewish majority in Israel. Continue reading “Netanyahu and Ethnic Cleansing”
Two very typical things regarding Palestine occurred recently. The first relates to the passage by the UN Human Rights Council of a resolution to condemn companies that benefit from and facilitate the building of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. It also calls on the Council to compile a list, updated yearly, of such companies. The EU and the US, at Israel’s urging, sought to blackmail the PA into removing the article about the database in return for supporting the rest of the resolution (after failing to bully the into PA withdrawing resolution in its entirety).
What this illustrates, once again, is that western powers are perfectly happy to condemn the illegal actions of Israel that they tacitly support and facilitate, but refuse to take action and seek to ban all others from taking action. Countless times, we have heard that settlements harm the peace process. Countless times, the US, UK, EU and Canada have condemned the appropriation of Palestinian land for the building of such settlements. The US even has a law stating that products made in settlements may not be labeled “Made in Israel.” Despite all this, no action is taken by the liberal, democratic, human rights defending western powers. These laws are not enforced. No pressure is put upon Israel to stop its expansionists policies. Israel known this, and the Netanyahu government seems to take special pleasure in announcing the appropriation of West Bank land and the issuing of permits for building more settlement houses on occasions of visits by Vice President Joe Biden. Continue reading “We bark, but we don’t bite. (And you better not, either)”