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Trump will ignite a powder keg in the Middle East

3 Feb

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Donald Trump. (Photo: Video grab)

By Ramzy Baroud, The Palestine Chronicle, 2 February 2017

Operation Chaos: Trump Will Ignite a Powder Keg in the Middle East

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump is about to do just that, reversing an historical course that has been in the making for one hundred years.

The inexperienced, demagogic politician hardly understands the danger that lies in his decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

If he goes through with this, he is likely to unleash an episode of chaos in an already volatile region.

The move, which is now reportedly in the ‘beginning stages’, is not a mere symbolic one, as some naively reported in western mainstream media.

True, American foreign policy has been centered mostly on military power, rarely historical fact.

But Trump, known for his thoughtlessness and impulsive nature, is threatening to eradicate even the little common sense that governed US foreign policy conduct in the Middle East.

If the new president moves forward with his plan, unsympathetic to Palestinian pleas and international warnings, he is likely to regret the unanticipated consequences of his action.

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Israeli firm that imprisons Gaza aims to build Trump’s wall with Mexico

2 Feb
Relatives separated by deportation and immigration hug at the border during a reunification event named "#Hugs Not Walls" at the banks of the Rio Bravo, a natural border between U.S. and Mexico, January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez (Newscom TagID: rtrleight522263.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

Relatives separated by deportation and immigration hug at the border during a reunification event named “#Hugs Not Walls” at the banks of the Rio Bravo, a natural border between U.S. and Mexico, January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez (Newscom TagID: rtrleight522263.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 2 February 2017.

A firm that has helped isolate Gaza from the outside world is hoping for a windfall building President Donald Trump’s wall on the US-Mexico border.

Ironically, the firm already does a lot of business with Mexico’s own government.

Shares of Israel’s Magal Security Systems, which also helped build Israel’s illegal barrier in the occupied West Bank, surged following Trump’s election victory last November.

During the campaign, Magal touted its experience caging Palestinians as the ideal credentials to build the wall that Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign and which has united Mexicans in opposition.

In recent decades, increasing US militarization of its southern border has torn apart communities on both sides, including indigenous communities that long predate the existence of the United States.

Gaza “has become a key sales prop for Magal’s ‘smart fences,’” the financial news agency Bloomberg reported in August.

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Gideon Levy: Palestinians Now ‘Fair Game’ for Soldiers

27 Jan

israeli_police_flag_danIsraeli occupation soldier chases after a Palestinian protester in the West Bank. (Photo: File)

The Palestinian Chronicle, 25 January 2017

Israeli journalist and author Gideon Levy has accused the state’s armed forces of treating Palestinians as “fair game”, in a scathing op-ed published by Haaretz [Israeli daily] newspaper.

Highlighting a number of incidents where Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the first weeks of 2017, Levy writes that Palestinians are “fair game in the occupied territories and fair game in Israel…because their blood is cheap.”

He continues: “When a soldier is killed in an accident, it’s front-page news. But when a Palestinian is killed while just waking up at home, nobody cares. Not one of the people killed in the last few days would have been shot to death if he weren’t a Palestinian or a Bedouin.”

Levy refers to the Israeli police’s killing of Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan, during a violent demolition raid in Umm al-Hiran, in the Negev. “Behold, Zionism 2017”, Levy writes, “destroying a community of Bedouin refugees in order to build a Jewish community in its place.”

He went on: “That’s the basic Zionist violence; nationalist and racist. Compare the case to the Amona outpost and you have perfect evidence of apartheid: negotiations and compensation for Jews, brutality for Arabs.”

Levy’s article mentions Mohammed al-Salahi, woken by soldiers raiding his home in Fara refugee camp, then shot dead with “11 bullets from point-blank range in front of his mother.”

Levy also cites the killing of Palestinian teenager Qusai al-Amour, who in widely-viewed video footage, is seen shot dead after throwing stones at soldiers, then dragged “like a sack of potatoes.”

Then there is the killing of Nadal Mahadawi at a checkpoint outside of Tulkarem, also documented by video footage. “The sight was horrific. He’s seen standing quietly while the soldiers shoot for no apparent reason. When he tries to flee, in what appears to be a dash for his life, they kill him.”

According to the veteran journalist, “the dragging of the wounded youth at Tuqu and the execution at the checkpoint should shock anyone”, but “above all, they should shock all Israelis, because the perpetrators are theirs sons, their soldiers and their police.” But – the “victims were Palestinians.”

Levy concludes: “A straight line passes through Umm al-Hiran, Tuqu, Fara and Tul Karm – the line of dehumanization guiding the soldiers and police. It begins with the incitement campaigns and ends with trigger-happy troops.”

“The roots are deep; they must be acknowledged. To most Israelis, all Arabs are the same and they’re not human beings equal to us. They’re not like us. They don’t love their children or their lives the way we do. They were born to kill. There’s no problem killing them.”

He concludes: “They’re all enemies, suspicious objects, terrorists, murderers – their lives and deaths are cheap. So kill them, because nothing bad will happen to you. Kill them, because it’s the only way to treat them.”

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Trump consecrates decades of US policy on Palestine/Israel: Now what? 

26 Jan

Local Palestinian farmers from Abu Dis and grassroots movements at their protest camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem in February 2015. Image by Juliane Kravik via Flickr

by Noura Erakat, Jadaliyya, 23 January 2017

Trump Consecrates Decades of US Policy on Palestine and Israel: Now What?

In late June 1967 and just before Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, British Foreign Minister Brown warned Israel that “if [Israel] purport[s] to annex the Old City or legislate for its annexation, they will be taking a step which will not only isolate them from world opinion, but will also lose them the sympathy that they have.” When Israel annexed East Jerusalem on 28 June 1967, in full daylight and during the course of diplomatic debates leading to UN Security Council Resolution 242, the General Assembly unanimously passed two resolutions (UNSC Res 2253 and 2254) condemning the annexation and demanded that Israel rescind all actions taken to alter the status of Jerusalem. The UK voted for both Resolutions and the United States abstained indicating opposition to territorial expansion. Both the United States and Britain refused to move their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in protest. To deflect criticism, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations claimed that Israel’s actions did not amount to annexation, but were merely administrative. As to the biting warnings and criticism, Israel simply ignored them and has suffered little consequence in the intervening decades.

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‘We will not stop until a white flag is raised’

26 Jan

Israeli Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman (left): ‘In the next conflict—we will not stop until a white flag is raised’

By Reut Rimerman, Ynetnews, 24 January 2017

Lieberman addressed the possibility of an additional conflict during an INSS conference: “The IDF’s orders are to go in full force.’ Lieberman also addressed the approval to construct thousands of housing units in the West Bank and said of the Palestinians: ‘There is no legitimate leader with whom to make peace.’

At a conference held by the Institute for National Security Studies on Tuesday, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the IDF’s orders are to “go in full force.” “If the other side doesn’t yield and raise a white flag, we don’t stop.”  

Lieberman also addressed the decision to approve the construction of about 2,500 housing units in Judea and Samaria and connected it to Donald Trump’s taking office as the president of the United States: “There is nothing new about it, we have always constructed, including under the Obama administration.”

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Gaza’s infrastructure ‘on verge of collapse – time running out’

26 Jan

electricityElectricity cuts in Gaza affect school children. (Photo: via MEMO, file)

 

Report from the Palestine Chronicle, 24 January 2017

Gisha: Gaza’s infrastructure on verge of collapse, time is running out

A new report by an Israeli NGO has warned that the Gaza Strip’s infrastructure is on the verge of collapse and time is running out.

The report by Gisha, ‘Hand on the Switch: Who’s Responsible for Gaza’s Infrastructure Crisis?’, claims to offer “an extensive and sobering review of the state of Gaza’s energy, water and communications infrastructure”.

Gisha also “parcels out the responsibilities of all relevant actors and shares expert opinions for immediate solutions that could stave off collapse and promote reconstruction and development.”

The NGO notes how, “even in the best of circumstances, Gaza residents receive continuous supply of electricity for no more than eight hours per day, water is undrinkable, untreated sewage flows to the sea, and Gaza’s cellular communications are stuck several generations behind.”

‘Hand on the Switch’ outlines how responsibility for the current situation is divided among the actors involved – Israel, the authorities in Ramallah and in Gaza, Egypt and the international community.

“One fact stands out above all”, Gisha states, namely that “Israel has maintained 50 years of continuous control over Gaza.”

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Israel approves huge West Bank settlements expansion

25 Jan

25israel-superjumboSettlement construction in West Bank. (The Telegraph, UK)

Al Jazeera report, 25 January 2017

Israel’s building plan for 2,500 new settler homes in occupied West Bank, came two days after more than 500 settlement homes were approved in East Jerusalem.

Israel has approved a plan to construct 2,500 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank, two days after the country accepted building permits for more than 500 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a statement on Tuesday that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed on the approval “in response to housing needs”.

It is the largest recent settlement building plan announced by Israel, which came as the country’s government feels emboldened by US President Donald Trump, who is not critical of illegal settlement activity, as opposed to his predecessor Barack Obama.

Lieberman said the majority of the housing units will be built in existing settlement blocs, areas where most settlers live and which Israel wants to keep under its control under any future peace deal with Palestinian officials.

Palestinian officials have condemned Israel’s latest plan for settlements, which are illegal under international law.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it deals a new blow to attempts to bring peace to the region and will promote extremism.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh said the decision “disregards” international opposition to the settlements and is calling on the international community to take a “real and serious position” against Israel.

Al Jazeera‘s Imran Khan, reporting from East Jerusalem, noted that the Israeli defence ministry’s statement said that 100 of the new settler homes will be built in Beit El, a settlement bloc “that is deep within the Palestinian territory”.

The fresh settlements plan “has already caused a significant amount of anger from the Palestinian Authority, which says it flies in the face of UN resolutions,” he added.

“They also said that it will be the death of the two-state solution.”

According to media reports, the parents of Jared Kushner – who is Donald Trump’s son-in-law and his senior adviser, have contributed a significant amount of funds to the Beit El settlement bloc.

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“We build and continue to build,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter shortly after Lieberman’s announcement on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities approved the construction of 566 settler homes in East Jerusalem.

That announcement came shortly after the inauguration of Trump in the US, with Israeli officials saying the permits had been held up until the end of Obama’s administration.

“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, told AFP news agency.

“We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”

 

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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