Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

South Africa’s ANC Makes Support for Israel Boycott Its Official Policy

December 22, 2012

For the first time ever, the African National Congress (ANC), the ruling party in South Africa, today made the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel part of its official policy.

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of BDS South Africa said the decision “by the ANC’s National Conference, its highest decision making body, is by far the most authoritative endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.”

In a press release sent out by email, BDS South Africa explained:

In October 2012, the ANC’s International Solidarity Conference (ISC) declared its full support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.

Today, Lindiwe Zulu (member of the ANC’s International Relations Sub-Committee and special advisor to President Jacob Zuma) announced at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference plenary session, the ANC’s official endorsement, as captured in Resolution 39 (b), of the ANC’s October International Solidarity Conference (ISC) and all its resolutions, which includes a resolution on BDS. Giving muscle to resolution 39 (b), the ANC has committed to set up a steering committee to implement these ISC resolutions.

In addition, the ANC adopted resolution 35 (g) that specifically called for “all South Africans to support the programmes and campaigns of the Palestinian civil society which seek to put pressure on Israel to engage with the Palestinian people to reach a just solution.”

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Settlements Snarl: ‘Israel gambles on US protection from intl law’

December 18, 2012

Israel says it will go ahead with plans to build 1500 new settler homes in East Jerusalem – the part of the city that’s considered Palestinian land.

The project was given an intermediate green light by Israeli officials on Monday. This comes less then a month after the UN granted Palestine non-member observer status. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state, and are promising to raise the issue at a Security Council meeting. Author and historian Gerald Horne says that with Palestine’s recent upgrade, Israel’s playing a risky game.

‘Useless, useless, useless’: the Palestinian verdict on Tony Blair

December 17, 2012

Former Prime Minister’s role as representative of Middle East Quartet comes in for fiercest criticism

MATTHEW KALMAN
The Independent 
Dec 17, 2012 

Palestinian officials say Tony Blair shouldn’t take it personally, but he should pack up his desk at the Office of the Quartet Representative in Jerusalem and go home. They say his job, and the body he represents, are “useless, useless, useless”.

Mr Blair became the representative of the Middle East Quartet – the UN, EU, US and Russia – a few weeks after leaving Downing Street. Last week, he visited the region for what he said was the 90th time since being appointed in June 2007. He spends one week a month based in Jerusalem or globetrotting on behalf of the Quartet. His office is funded by the Quartet members and his 24-hour security detail is on secondment from Scotland Yard but he receives no direct salary.

After four years of renting 15 rooms at the American Colony Hotel for his full-time staff, Mr Blair put down more permanent roots in 2011 by renting the penthouse of a new office building in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem.

Tony Blair

But senior Palestinian officials and analysts told The Independent the move was unnecessary – his sojourn in the region should be cut short. “The Quartet has been useless, useless, useless,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said last week. He suggested that its constant need to reach internal consensus among its warring participants had rendered it ineffective.

“Always the statement of the Quartet really means nothing because it was always full of what they call constructive ambiguity that really took us to nowhere,” said Mr Shtayyeh, who had just ended a meeting with Mr Blair. “You need a mediator who is ready to engage and who is ready to say to the party who is destroying the peace process ‘You are responsible for it’,” he said.

Mr Shtayyeh is not alone. Last February, the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution pronounced the body already dead in a report bluntly entitled The Middle East Quartet: A Post-Mortem.

“The Quartet has little to show for its decade-long involvement in the peace process. Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to resolving the conflict, and in the few instances in which political negotiations did take place, the Quartet’s role was usually relegated to that of a political bystander,” said the report. “Having spent most of the last three years in a state of near paralysis, and having failed to dissuade the Palestinians from seeking UN membership and recognition in September 2011, the Quartet has finally reached the limits of its utility.

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Young Israelis Fight for Social Justice

December 10, 2012

VICE MAG IN PALESTINE…

“In the lead up to the one-year anniversary of the biggest protest in Israel’s history, we get tear-gassed by the IDF in the West Bank, and then we have drinks with a spokesperson for the Israeli protest movement…”

Hamas Leader Khaled Meshal Says Group Will Never Recognize Israel

December 10, 2012

Washington Post
Joel Greenburg

JERUSALEM — In a fiery speech Saturday before a mammoth rally in Gaza City marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, the political leader of the militant Islamist group, pledged that it would never recognize Israel and called for an Islamic Palestinian state on the territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Meshal spoke during his first visit to Gaza, a triumphant tour after a recent eight-day warbetween Hamas and Israel, and 15 years after he survived an Israeli assassination attempt in Jordan.

A sea of green flags filled Katiba Square in Gaza City as Meshal and the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, walked out of a giant replica of a long-range Hamas M-75 rocket set up on a stage with a mock-up of the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Tens of thousands gathered for what was billed as both an anniversary and a victory celebration after last month’s conflict, during which Hamas fired rockets toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Meshal, who has led Hamas from exile, used the occasion to reiterate the group’s long-held principles, calling for “armed resistance” to eliminate Israel.

“Palestine, from the river to the sea, from north to south, is our land,” Meshal said, “Not an inch of it can be conceded.”

“We cannot recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Palestine,” he said. “There is no legitimacy to occupation, and therefore no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take.”

“Liberating Palestine, all of Palestine, is a duty, a right and a goal,” he added.

As for Jerusalem, “we will liberate it inch by inch, stone by stone, Islamic and Christian holy places,” he said. “Israel has no right in Jerusalem.”

The recent recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state at the United Nations was a “small step but a good one,” Meshal said, but he asserted that armed action took precedence over diplomacy.

“Liberation first, then the state,” he said. “The real state is the product of liberation, not the product of negotiations.”

“Holy war and armed resistance are the real and right path to liberation and recovery of rights,” he declared, adding that that while diplomatic efforts could also serve the cause, they had “no value without resistance.”

Meshal’s message stood in stark contrast to the strategy of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the rival Fatah faction that is dominant in the West Bank. Abbas led the successful U.N. bid, has negotiated with Israel and rejects violence.

Still, Meshal urged Abbas to follow through with a reconciliation agreement signed last year between Hamas and Fatah, calling the U.N. vote a boost to faltering unity efforts.

After the reconciliation accord, Meshal endorsed a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and unarmed “popular struggle” advocated by Abbas, but he did not renounce violence or commit to ending the conflict with Israel once that state was achieved.

Nuclear Israel: The secret that is not

December 5, 2012

The United Nations General Assembly is pressing Israel to reveal its nuclear arsenal. Israel has lashed out against the overwhelming approval of the resolution, which calls for international inspectors to be allowed to examine its atomic programme. Its foreign minister said the vote was meaningless. The country also rejected a UN-backed conference on a nuke-free Middle East. Israel denies it has nuclear weapons – but refuses to provide proof that it doesn’t

The End of Jewish Power

December 1, 2012

By Gilad Atzmon

http://quitenormal.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/un-israel.gif?w=593Israel suffered a humiliating defeat at The UN yesterday. The nations of the world stood up and said NO to the Jewish state – NO to Israeli occupation, NO to Israeli human rights abuse, NO to Jewish racism. In effect, they stood up and confessed to serious Zio-fatigue.

Despite Jewish success in constantly reminding Europeans of their tormented past, Europe yesterday delivered itself of its guilt and Israel’s European allies such as Germany, France, Britain and Italy also delivered a clear messages to Israel – they are right out of patience. This is a very good news indeed.

But interestingly, this united opposition to Israel is not in response the Israeli strength. On the contrary, it is actually a reaction to Israeli weakness. In the last few months we have seen the complete and final eradication of the famed Israeli power of deterrence. For months, Israel gave the impression that it was ready and willing to attack Iran nuclear facilities, only to have to admit, even to itself, that it lacked both the means and guts to do so. Israel then launched a lethal attack on the people of Gaza. It called up 75.000 IDF reservists, only to find out that it didn’t have the stomach to face Palestinian resistance.

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U.S. Army Building Mysterious $100 million ‘911’ Nuclear Bunker Project in Israel

November 29, 2012

By Walter Pincus

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named “Site 911,” at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv.

Expected to take more than two years to build, at a cost of up to $100 million, the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from non-ionizing radiation and very tight security. Clearances will be required for all construction workers, guards will be at the fence and barriers will separate it from the rest of the base.

Only U.S. construction firms are being allowed to bid on the contract and proposals are due Dec. 3, according to the latest Corps of Engineers notice.

Site 911 is the latest in a long history of military construction projects the United States has undertaken for the IDF under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The 1998 Wye River Memorandum between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has led to about $500 million in U.S. construction of military facilities for the Israelis, most of them initially in an undeveloped part of the Negev Desert. It was done to ensure there were bases to which IDF forces stationed in the West Bank could be redeployed.

As recorded in the Corps’ European District magazine, called Engineering in Europe, three bases were built to support 20,000 troops, and eventually the Israeli air force moved into the same area, creating Nevatim air base. A new runway, 2.5 miles long, was built there by the Corps along with about 100 new buildings and 10 miles of roads.

Over the years, the Corps has built underground hangers for Israeli fighter-bombers, facilities for handling nuclear weapons (though Israel does not admit having such weapons), command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications.

Within the past two years the Corps, which has three offices in Israel, completed a $30 million set of hangars at Nevatim, which the magazine describes as a “former small desert outpost that has grown to be one of the largest and most modern air bases in the country.” It has also supervised a $20 million project to build maintenance shops, hangars and headquarters to support Israel’s large Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle.

Site 911, which will be built at another base, appears to be one of the largest projects. Each of the first three underground floors is to be roughly 41,000 square feet, according to the Corps notice. The lower two floors are much smaller and hold equipment.

Security concerns are so great that non-Israeli employees hired by the builder can come only from “the U.S., Canada, Western Europe countries, Poland, Moldavia, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and China,” according to the Corps notice. “The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden,” it says.

Among other security rules: The site “shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site” and “no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.” Guards will be Israeli citizens with experience in the Israeli air force. Also, “the collection of information of any type whatsoever related to base activities is prohibited.”

The well-known Israeli architectural firm listed on the plans, Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects, has paid attention to the aesthetics of the site design as well as the sensibilities of future employees. The site, for example, will be decorated with rocks chosen by the architect but purchased by the contractor. Three picnic tables are planned, according to the solicitation.

The Corps offered a lengthy description of the mezuzas the contractor is to provide “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms” in the Site 911 building. A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah, placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house as a sign of faith. Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.

These mezuzas, notes the Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”

Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”

What’s the purpose of Site 911? I asked the Pentagon on Tuesday, and the Corps on Wednesday said that only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman could provide an answer.

This may be a trend-starter. The Corps is also seeking a contractor for another secret construction project in Israel in the $100 million range to awarded next summer. This one will involve “a complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/
HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing.” The U.S. contractor must have a U.S. secret or equivalent Israeli security clearance for the project, which is expected to take almost 21 / years to complete.

That sounds like a secure command center.

The purpose of Site 911 is far less clear.

Source: Washington Post

What Killed Arafat?

November 29, 2012

A nine-month investigation by Al Jazeera discovered rare, radioactive polonium on the ex-Palestinian leader’s final belongings. The finding suggests that Arafat was poisoned with polonium, a rare, highly radioactive element. The polonium was found in blood, sweat, urine and saliva stains on his personal effects, and the levels recorded by forensic pathologists in Switzerland – who studied the items – do not occur naturally.

Palestine Looks To Be Set For UN Recognition

November 28, 2012

By Colum Lynch

NEW YORK — The U.N. General Assembly is poised to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state” on Thursday, a move that will strengthen the Palestinians’ legal basis for pursuing possible war-crimes prosecutions against Israeli troops and set up a showdown with the United States and Israel.

Supporters hope the vote will provide a desperately needed political boost to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party has been eclipsed in recent weeks by rival Hamas, the militant movement whose fortunes have risen with those of its Islamist allies in Egypt and elsewhere.

The Palestinians are expected to win the Thursday vote by an overwhelming margin, according to U.N. diplomats. To date, 132 countries have recognized the state of Palestine.

“I think that the great majority of nations will vote with us because there is a global consensus on the two-state solution,” said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinians’ U.N. representative, adding that 60 states have agreed to co-
sponsor the resolution.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said his country would back the Palestinian quest, telling the French Parliament on Tuesday that Paris would support a resolution recognizing Palestine as an observer state, the same status accorded to the Vatican.

The vote is likely to roil U.N. diplomatic waters and highlight a rift in Europe over Palestinian statehood. It is also likely to provoke a diplomatic backlash from Israel and concern in Washington.

“We fear Abbas is heading for a dangerous Pyrrhic victory,” said a senior European diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity as per diplomatic protocol. “If the Palestinians believe it will push the Israelis into a negotiation, we don’t believe that. It might backfire for Abbas.”

The Obama administration has struggled to balance its support for Palestinian statehood and its endorsement of the Palestinian Authority’s position as the legitimate Palestinian leader while opposing the push for U.N. recognition. U.S. officials say a negotiated settlement with Israel is the only way to establish a Palestinian state.

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