maandag 31 december 2007

Tweestatenoplossing ook goed recept voor Libanon?

Een creatieve oplossing voor de crisis in Libanon: de tweestatenoplossing!

A Roadmap for Free Lebanon in 2008 (1)
By: Charles Jalkh/Freedom Fighter


When a nation is faced with open rebellion by at least a third of its people it has three basic choices; reach a settlement, quell the rebellion, or let go of the rebel territory. You can do this in war, or in peace, then live one more day hoping that you may be able to reunite the nation in the future if the people are willing .

In Lebanon today, Hezbollah dominates the Shiites constituency, or one third of the Lebanese people. It has erected its own state within our Lebanese state. It possesses its own more powerful army -with 30,000 missiles- which Israel failed to defeat, and many may be aimed at us. It conducts its own foreign policy and launches wars for which we must incur the cost without asking our opinion. It provides its own social services including education, health care, and financial assistance to its selective constituency while collecting central subsidies (protection money), paid by us.

It receives billions of dollars in foreign aid (from Iran/Syria) directly bypassing the Lebanese State legal and financial system. It conducts its own economic policy, manages its own business zones/entities, and has a gigantic land purchase program underway massively funded by Iran's oil dollars. Hezbollah has even built a complete infrastructure and has connected the areas under its control with its own road and telecommunication network totally independent of the Lebanese state network system.

Since the world powers seem unwilling to deal firmly with Hezbollah's patrons Syria and Iran, then Mr. Walid Jumblatt, a hero of the second Lebanese independence, is correct in stating that President Bush's verbal support to the Cedars Revolution "is not a currency that can be spent on the land of reality". In other words, March 14 cannot fully rely on the US, and is unwilling and unable to confront Hezbollah with forceful methods.

So going back to the choices a nation in rebellion has; we must re-assess, and confirm that since we are unable to reach an agreement with Hezbollah, and since we are unable and unwilling to defeat it militarily, we are therefore logically left with the third alternative, which is to part with it through partition. This solution will make hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah supporters happy for they would have achieved their Islamic Republic, their life aspirations.

It would also make the rest of the Lebanese happy, for we could then move forward with our own identity and future, formally detached from the Axis of Evil and sheltered from Israel's massive retaliations which remain a very real danger.

The Lebanese must understand that insisting on the 10452 klm2 Lebanon means assuming responsibility for it. We cannot complain again if Hezbollah launches another war and Israel retaliates massively again, there will not be a Paris 4 to help us in such case. The world powers must help Lebanon achieve a peaceful transition into two states, just as it has done in former Yugoslavia. It is good to pacify a portion of the disputed land, if you cannot pacify the whole.

One third of the people equitably means, 1/3 of the land, 1/3 of the Foreign Currency reserves in the central bank, 1/3 of the National debt. All army individuals would have the freedom to join either states. The two states should then maintain friendly and civilized relations due to family and land ties that may overlap the new borders. In some cases disconnected areas may be joined to their respective states via underground tunnel highways or train systems, such cross points could be easily engineered, but it would be nicest if we could travel over ground in the county of Mountains.

We Lebanese are creative enough to find solutions but we must avoid bloodshed at all cost. We should never wage war ever again on our own soil. Let us disagree and part in peace and continue to cooperate even after saying good bye. Let us peacefully create two new states out of the old and defunct one. Each answering to the national aspirations of its people. A Shiite Islamic Lebanese Republic named as such, and a Secular Democratic and Multi-Ethnic Free Lebanon state, grouping the Independence-oriented constituencies; the Druze, Sunnis, and Christians.

In Part 2 of this article, we will presents policy proposals for the new Free Lebanon state in a variety of areas including foreign policy, defense, economic, political parties/state reform, social, cultural, and human resources care policies.

A Golden Age is within our reach! All people deserve reaching their Promised Land.

December 30/07


PCHR protesteert tegen aanvallen op Fatah aanhangers

De Hamas politie is de afgelopen dagen op verschillende plaatsen in de Gazastrook binnengevallen om Fatah aanhangers te intimideren en te weerhouden van deelname aan aktiviteiten ter gelegenheid van de verjaardag van Fatah.
Hamas zelf vierde onlangs nog haar 20ste verjaardag. Dat leidde eveneens tot aanvaringen tussen de 2 Palestijnse partijen.


PCHR - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Press Release

Ref: 178/2007
Date: 30 December 2007
Time:  12:30 GMT

PCHR Calls for Stopping attacks against Offices of Fatah Movement and Affiliated Institutions in Gaza

PCHR strongly condemns attacks against offices of Fatah movement and affiliated institutions in Gaza City, and the attacks against the campus of al-Azhar University, in which dozens of persons were arrested. PCHR calls upon the dismissed Palestinian government in Gaza to stop such attacks and to respect the right to association and other rights and public freedoms.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 20:30 on Saturday, 29 December 2007, the Palestinian police raided an office of Fatah movement in al-Remal neighborhood in the west of Gaza City. They confiscated a computer set, a photocopier, a fax machine, a scanner, documents, photos and flags of Palestine and Fatah movement. They also arrested 6 persons who were in the office. One of the detainees, who was released later, told PCHR that the police forced them to sign documents pledging not to participate in any activities related to the anniversary of Fatah movement, and if they did not commit to their pledge, they would be required to pay a 4,000-US$ fine.

At approximately 23:30 on the same day, the police, accompanied by masked militants in civilian clothes, raided a building in al-Daraj neighborhood in the east of Gaza City, which includes offices of Fatah movement and Abu Jihad Association. They confiscated the furniture and equipment of the two offices and cut photos and flags of Fatah movement.

At approximately 00:30 on Sunday, 30 December 2007, the police, accompanied by masked militants in civilian clothes, raided the headquarters of Fatah movement near Ansar security compound in the west of Gaza City. They broke door and confiscated equipment. At the same time, the police raided the office of the Executive Committee of Palestine Liberation Organization. They broke doors and confiscated equipment.

At approximately 17:00 on Friday, 28 December 2007, the Palestinian police raided the campus of al-Azhar University in the west of Gaza City, and arrested 35 students who were preparing for the celebration of the anniversary of Fatah movement. The detainees were taken to al-Abbas police station, where they were forced to sign documents pledging not to participate in any activity related to the anniversary, and if they did not commit, they would be detained for 15 days and pay a 4,000-US$ fine.

PCHR calls upon the dismissed Palestinian government to stop such attacks and ensure their non-recurrence, and asserts that:

1)       Respect for the right to association and other right and public freedoms is constitutionally ensured.
2)       Respect for universities and academic institutions is a must.
3)       Arrests are regulated by the Palestinian law and fall under the mandate and warranty officials, represented by the police and supervised by the Attorney-General.

Public Document
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail:, Webpage
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and write "subscribe" in the subject line.

Nog maar weinig burgerslachtoffers bij 'targeted killings'

Bij de door velen zo hard veroordeelde 'targeted killings' vallen de laatste jaren nog nauwelijks burgerslachtoffers. Bij luchtaanvallen de afgelopen maand zijn 40 terroristen gedood, en geen enkele burger, ondanks het feit dat men in zeer dichtbevolkt gebied opereert. In 2007 waren maar 2,5% van de slachtoffers door 'targeted killings' onschuldige burgers, terwijl dat in 2003 de helft was.
Terwijl dus het belangrijkste bezwaar tegen deze vorm van terreurbestrijding is weggenomen, blijft de kritiek hierop van (linkse) politieke partijen, vredesgroepen, journalisten etc. precies hetzelfde. Dat is vreemd, en leidt tot de conclusie dat het ze niet te doen is om hoeveel burgers omkomen, maar om het veroordelen van Israël voor alles wat het doet om aanvallen op haar burgers tegen te gaan. Als een gewapende strijder geen legitiem doelwit is voor Israël, wie dan wel??

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA:  From table in Hebrew edition:
Percent civilians among Palestinians killed in targeted killing:
2003 - 50%, 2005 - 3.5%, 2006 - 10%, 2007 - 2-3%

Pinpointed IAF attacks on Gaza more precise, hurt fewer civilians
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent Last update - 07:56 30/12/2007

Among those who attended last week's pilots' graduation at the Israel Air Force base in Hatzerim was Shin Bet security service chief Yuval Diskin. Why would a busy man like Diskin take the trouble of going to a military ceremony at a distant base in the Negev? The answer has to do with the tight cooperation between the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces, particularly the air force, as reflected in fighting in the territories.

The Shin Bet and the IAF (in some cases the IDF Southern Command is also involved) are responsible for the most lethal part of combating terror organizations in the Gaza Strip: the assassinations from the air, for which Israel coined the euphemism "pinpointed thwarting." This past month alone, at least 40 armed terrorists were killed in IDF air attacks.

Lately, the thwartings have indeed become more worthy of the title "pinpointed." In all the attacks of recent weeks, only gunmen were hurt, as confirmed by Palestinians. The rate of civilians hurt in these attacks in 2007 was 2-3 percent. The IDF has come a long way since the dark days of 2002-2003, when half the casualties in air assaults on the Gaza Strip were innocent bystanders.

The attacks fall into three main categories: targeting specific known terrorists; targeting Qassam rocket-launching cells en-route or in action; and punitive bombardments of Hamas outposts, in response to rocket or mortar fire into Israel. Since Israel began air assaults on the Gaza Strip, in late 2000, the first two types of attacks killed more than 100 Palestinian civilians.

In their quest to hit terrorists, who operate in the midst of civilian populations, the IAF attacked even when the terrorists were in densely populated areas. There were always safety rules, but these were "bent" at times in view of the target's importance. The result was mass killing of civilians.

The best-known case involved the liquidation of a senior Hamas man, Salah Shehadeh. Besides Shehadeh and one of his aides, the one-ton bomb the IAF dropped on the Gaza house he was staying in also killed his wife, daughter and 13 civilians. That affair led to the infamous statement by then-IAF chief (and later IDF chief of staff) Dan Halutz about "a ding to the plane," in reference to the impact of civilian casualties.

The army's public responses in the Shehadeh affair and other incidents combined obtuseness with self-righteousness. Senior officers claimed there is simply no other way. The attacks are necessary, they said, and it's impossible to reduce the number of "noncombatants" who wind up getting hurt.

Turns out it is possible. Reducing the number of civilian casualties in the attacks on Gaza was one of the first tasks Halutz's heir as IAF chief, Eliezer Shkedi, marked out for himself. The data improved commensurately. From a 1:1 ratio between killed terrorists and civilians in 2003 to a 1:28 ratio in late 2005. Several IAF mishaps in 2006 lowered the ratio to 1:10, but the current ratio is at its lowest ever - more than 1:30.

The IAF warns, however, against expecting zero collateral damage. All it would take is for a missile to veer off-course by a few meters because of a technical malfunction and civilians would be killed. And another thing: When tensions escalate, such as under massive Qassam fire from the Gaza Strip, the IDF is more active and also takes more risks, leading to more civilian casualties among the Palestinians.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Voorstel om minder Palestijnse gevangenen te beschouwen als 'met bloed aan hun handen'

Israël overweegt om de criteria voor de definitie van gevangenen met bloed aan hun handen te versoepelen, om zo een deal met Hamas mogelijk te maken waarin de Israëlische soldaat Gilad Shalit zou worden vrijgelaten. Het lijkt een truuk om te verdoezelen dat Shalit alleen vrij te krijgen is, door een flink aantal terroristen die bij dodelijke aanslagen betrokken waren vrij te laten. 
Een dergelijke deal zal door Hamas ongetwijfeld als een grote overwinning worden beschouwd, en niet tot matiging leiden zoals ook sommige Israëlische leiders hopen.
Ashkenazi supports change of criteria for prisoners 'with blood on hands'

The government should reconsider changing the criteria for the definition of a prisoner "with blood on his hands," IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi told a ministerial committee on Sunday.

The special committee discussing alleviations that could help reach deals for the release of captured soldiers failed to achieve a consensus during their second meeting in the matter, which focused mainly on Palestinian prisoners who were on a list as per the demands of Cpl. Gilad Schalit's kidnappers.

Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin, who has voiced his disagreement with the move, warned against making changes to criteria.
Diskin told Army Radio that such action would bring about the release of masses of prisoners.

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: 
Israel Television Channel One Mabat News reported this evening that it is being proposed that several groups be dropped from the "blood on hands" category:

1. Those who wounded Israelis but didn't manage to kill them ("if first you don't succeed...?")
2. Those who sent others to kill Israelis.("just gave orders" instead of "just followed orders")
3. Those who actively participated in an operation killing Israelis but did not actually pull the trigger that shot a bullet that killed an Israeli. (The beauty of this category is that it means Israel can release all Palestinians serving time for their involvement in successful suicide bombings)
4. Those who killed Israelis a long time ago - e.g. before Oslo.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Hezbollah terug aan de Israëlisch-Libanese grens

Een flagrante schending van internationaal recht met mogelijk desastreuze gevolgen.
'Hizbullah repositioned on southern Lebanese border'

Hizbullah has yet again positioned itself on Lebanon's southern border with Israel, Channel 1's Mabat evening news reported on Sunday.

Several MKs including Silvan Shalom (Likud), Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) toured the northern border to witness the terror group's presence there firsthand.

Shalom blamed UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces for allowing the organization to continue deploying in the area.

Meanwhile, a defense official told Channel 1 that Hizbullah has managed to increase its arsenal over the last year and a half since the Second Lebanon War than in the six years before it.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Egypte richt tijdelijke kampen in voor gestrande Palestijnse pelgrims

Palestijnen in kampen - dat is altijd goed voor een hoop media aandacht en verontwaardiging van mensenrechtenactivisten. Dat de betreffende Palestijnen niet willen terugkeren naar Gaza via een Israëlische controlepost is uiteraard volledig terecht: je laat je toch niet door die Zionistenhonden vernederen?
Sinds de overname van de Gazastrook door Hamas hebben de Hamas sympathisanten miljoenen aan cash geld de strook in gesmokkeld. Ook hebben Hamas strijders trainingen in Iran gevolgd. Maar ook dat alles is uiteraard hun goed recht, net als het afvuren van raketten op Israëlische burgers.  

Last update - 13:01 30/12/2007

Egypt moves stranded Palestinian pilgrims to temporary Sinai camps 
By The Associated Press  

More than a thousand Palestinian pilgrims trapped in Egypt boarded buses Sunday taking them to temporary camps in the northern Sinai Peninsula until authorities decide where they will cross into the Gaza Strip, a security official said.

The Palestinians arrived in the Egyptian port city of Nuweiba in southern Sinai on Saturday after completing their pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia but have resisted Egypt's attempts to have them return to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, where they must go through Israeli security checks.

Some of the pilgrims are members of the radical Islamic group Hamas, which seized Gaza in June, and they fear Israel will arrest them if they return through Kerem Shalom. Instead, they want to cross into Gaza through Rafah, which is outside Israeli control.

The 1,166 Palestinians who left Nuweiba Sunday boarded 29 buses headed for El-Arish, some 250 kilometers north of the Sinai port city and less than 25 kilometers west of Rafah, the security official said.

A total of 3,060 Palestinians have arrived in Nuweiba on two ferries, and authorities plan to send a second batch of buses to transport those who remain, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

Hamas representatives had indicated Saturday that some 1,900 pilgrims were stuck in Nuweiba, but this figure apparently only included those on the first ferry.

Egypt's attempts to force the pilgrims to use the Kerem Shalom crossing have outraged Hamas supporters in Gaza, who staged large-scale protests on Saturday.

Al-Jazeera television aired interviews with the pilgrims before they left Jordan in which they showed a paper Egypt allegedly asked them to sign saying they would to return to Gaza through Kerem Shalom.

Israel fears that if the pilgrims are allowed to return to Gaza through Rafah, Hamas militants might get through and sympathizers could smuggle cash to the Islamic group.

Some 7,000 demonstrators gathered at the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing Saturday waving Palestinian and Hamas flags and demanding the pilgrims be allowed to enter.

Hamas lawmakers echoed these calls, saying Egypt has a moral obligation to bring the pilgrims home as quickly as possible by allowing them to cross through Rafah.

The leader of Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, called on the Egyptian authorities Sunday to exercise their historical duty to the Palestinians and let them return to Gaza using the Rafah crossing.

Egypt has set up 11 temporary camps in El-Arish to house the pilgrims until authorities come up with a solution to the current crisis, security officials said.

zondag 30 december 2007

Israëli's optimistisch over eigen situatie, niet over politiek

Wat verwachten Israëli's van het komende jaar? Men is niet erg optimistisch over het vredesproces....
Poll: Public optimistic for selves (85%:14%) - not State (46%:54%) expect Netanyahu 41% Olmert 22% to be PM by end 2008
Dr. Aaron Lerner     Date: 28 December 2007

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 500 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Dahaf  for Yediot Ahronot the week of 28 December 2007 and published on 28 December 2007.

Are you optimistic about the situation of the State?
Optimistic 46%
Pessimistic 54%

Are you optimistic about your personal situation?
Optimistic 85%
Pessimistic 14%

What do you predict will be at the end of 2008?

1. Who will be prime minister at the end of 2008?
Netanyahu 41%
Olmert 22%
Barak 16%
Livni 8%

2. Deal reached with the Palestinians?
High chance 10%
Low chance 89%

3. Solution found for the Qassams?
High chance 12%
Low chance 88%

4. Negotiations open with the Syrians?
High chance 29%
Low chance 70%

5. Israel attacks Iran?
High chance 28%
Low chance 69%

6. Gilad Shalit released by Hamas?
High chance 45%
Low chance 54%

7. Eldad Regev and Ido Goldwasser released by Hezbollah?
High chance 23%
Low chance 75%

8. Knesset elections advanced and held?
High chance 43%
Low chance 54%

9. A woman elected U.S. president for the first time?
High chance 60%
Low chance 38%

10. A black elected president of the U.S. for the first time?
High chance 25%
Low chance 73%

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Voorzichting optimisme

Hieronder een sobere analyse van onder andere de situatie met betrekking tot de Gazastrook.
In tegenstelling tot wat veel wordt geroepen is Israël momenteel niet van plan een grootscheepse operatie uit te voeren, en men hoopt dat een deal over de vrijlating van Shalit samen met een onofficiële 'kalmte' (waardoor er dus minder Qassams op Israël zullen vallen), het publiek kunnen tevredenstellen. Vandaar ook de recente discussie over het versoepelen van de criteria voor de vrijlating van Palestijnse gevangenen. Hamas zal Shalit immers alleen vrijlaten in ruil voor een aantal al lang vast zittende gevangenen die direct betrokken waren bij dodelijke aanslagen, alsmede zwaargewichten uit hun organisatie.
Dit lijkt een typische korte termijn oplossing: tijdelijk minder Qassams en de blijdschap van het publiek dat Shalit eindelijk vrij is, vormen natuurlijk geen oplossing voor het feit dat Hamas continu bezig is zijn raketten en andere aanvalscapaciteiten te verbeteren en voor de grootschalige wapensmokkel.

Cautious optimism
By Amos Harel Haaretz 28 December 2007

We are being told that very little is happening to secure the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, but the media is ripe with reports about the details of a deal that may be taking shape. We are promised that there is nothing to talk about with Hamas, but there is no end to the discussion about an emerging tahadiya (cease-fire) between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. Is this not much ado about nothing?

The questions one must ask are: Who is disseminating the information to the media, who stands to benefit from its publication and what interests underlie many of the reports? There are, of course, actual developments on the ground: Hamas' political wing is in fact showing interest in a cease-fire. Egypt has renewed its mediation between the two sides for a Shalit release; Hamas may soon provide a new list of prisoners whose release it demands, and may display greater flexibility. But the progress made in all these channels was inflated, in collaboration with the media, which was too eager at times, and those who leaked the information (most of them from Israel's political echelon), who benefit from a rise in the general level of optimism.

Why is this happening just now? Apparently it is connected with the burning political- security question looming as 2007 comes to a close: To occupy Gaza or not to occupy Gaza? There is no great enthusiasm for such a move. It is hard to find broad support for a large-scale operation in the levels above the GOC Southern Command, Major General Yoav Galant, and the commander of the Gaza Division, Brigadier General Moshe Tamir. It seems as though the wave of reports is aimed at preparing the public for the possibility that the government will forgo a big operation at this time and continue to absorb sporadic Qassam rocket fire at Sderot, provided Hamas does not overdo it.

A temporary truce will render moot the urgency of the arguments being voiced by proponents of a ground operation. No one is going to war over a Hamas munitions buildup. One can already hear the counter-arguments from the political echelon: a cease-fire will also make it possible for Israel to improve the protective facilities in Sderot (first for homes, then for a missile-interception system). After all, is Israel going to war again on the northern border against Hezbollah, which has improved its rocket deployment north of the Litani River?

If Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can succeed in obtaining Shalit's return as part of a cease-fire with Hamas, he will have a winning hand. Olmert commands an overwhelming majority in the cabinet that will allow him to set more flexible criteria for releasing Palestinian security prisoners. The right-wing will scream, but with Shalit's fate as part of the equation (Hamas is sufficiently sophisticated to release another video of Shalit at the appropriate time), the deal will go through. Even a deal in which 430 prisoners, most of them Palestinians, were released in return for a drug dealer in Hezbollah captivity was authorized four years ago. From the public's point of view, Shalit's emotional return home, together with a declaration that the responsibility and moderation projected by the government saved the lives of thousands of other soldiers, will sweeten the pill of showing restraint toward Hamas.

So, if Hamas can get the splinter groups to agree on a tahadiya, it will find in Israel a silent, if indirect partner. Until this question is resolved, the IDF will continue doing more of the same: raids in the "security strip," up to three kilometers past the fence that surrounds the Gaza Strip; assassinations (mainly of senior Islamic Jihad figures); and a continuation of the economic pressure.

Soon the money collected at the meeting of donor countries in Paris by Salam Fayyad, the prime minister in Ramallah, will start pouring into the Gaza Strip. If Fayyad manages to ensure that the money reaches only Fatah supporters, Hamas' distress will increase. In the meantime, the Israeli government and the army are taking pride in tactical achievements in the day-to-day struggle against the terrorists.

Barak and Olmert believe Israel does not have to adopt a special policy because a lone Qassam rocket lands in a certain place, however lethal the results. This is an important distinction, but whether it will stand the political test of time is another matter. Also militating against a large-scale ground operation at this time is the absence of an "exit plan." Israel has not been able to get others - from the United States to the Fatah government - to agree to a comprehensive assault against Hamas. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in no hurry to volunteer to seize control in Gaza after Hamas is defeated. In this context Barak has lately been quoting Napoleon: You can do a lot with bayonets, but you can't sit on them.

2. Egypt - tension

It had been a full seven years since Ehud Barak last visited Sharm el-Sheikh. He probably doesn't have very fond memories of the last time. It was in October 2000, two weeks after the eruption of the Al-Aqsa intifada. U.S. President Bill Clinton sponsored an international conference in an attempt to bring about a cease-fire. The understandings collapsed shortly after Barak and Yasser Arafat returned to Jerusalem and Ramallah, respectively.

This week the issues on the agenda were a bit less dramatic. Barak did not come to strike a deal for the return of Gilad Shalit. Shalit was abducted on Olmert's watch, and it is the prime minister who has to set things right, both morally and politically. If there had been a genuine ribbon to cut, Olmert would have gone to Sharm el-Sheikh, not Barak.

Wednesday's meeting with President Hosni Mubarak was held in inauspicious circumstances. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is usually very judicious, came out with a gaffe, or was dragged into making it by MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), the head of the anti-Egypt lobby. Livni, who was critical of Egypt's poor performance in blocking weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip, did not deviate by so much as a millimeter from the consensus on this issue, both within the government and the defense es ablishment, but doing so publicly offended Cairo, which moved immediately from the status of accused to that of victim and took skillful advantage of the incident. Barak, who suddenly found himself in the role of having to put out the fire, went about the task cautiously. To the press and the Egyptians he promised that, "In the future, when disputes arise, we will deal with them together," and emphasized Israel's commitment to the peace with Egypt, which he views as a strategic asset.

But Barak, too, finds it difficult to resolve the contradiction between the sharp Israeli criticism of the Egyptian failure on the border, and declarations of eternal friendship. True, the government is not behind the initiative of Steinitz, who together with a delegation of MKs wants to persuade the U.S. Congress to slash aid to Egypt as punishment for the smuggling. The director of Military Intelligence, Major General Amos Yadlin, who was asked about this recently by an American delegation, said he objected to harsh measures against Egypt. At the same time, Israel, too, is looking for ways to get Washington to press Cairo to improve its performance.

The defense minister made a big effort to smooth things over, with partial success. Barak's replies were more diplomatic than ever. The Egyptian media remained hostile, and the Egyptian journalists, most of whom went out of their way to avoid their Israeli colleagues, competed among themselves in asking long questions, which condemned the occupation, the settlements and "Israeli terrorism." The Egyptians were not persuaded by the high-ranking Israeli guest, the more so because he did not come across as particularly focused. It's easy to see when Barak is unfocused: He reverts to English from the kibbutz ("Shalom, lehitraot and bye").

3. Winograd - Imminent

As soon as the dust of the Egyptian to-do settles, we will be able to move to the next to-do: the final report by the Winograd Committee, which investigated the Second Lebanon War. The report is expected to be released in the second half of January. Even though the war is becoming a distant memory, the debate over its management and its results remains as passionate as ever. Two conversations this week, less than 24 hours apart, with two high-ranking members of the security establishment (one took an active part in the war, the other did not) turned up two completely different viewpoints: between relative success, which has not yet gained the appreciation it deserves, and abject failure.

The final report will not resolve these differences, just as the disputes over the 1973 Yom Kippur War continue to arise every October. The trouble is that the Winograd Committee, with its rather erratic judicial behavior and with the vigorous aid of Olmert's office, has consistently undermined its own status. As such, it may have lost part of the validity the final report will receive.

Still, it is likely to be a stinging judgment, from which few will emerge unscathed. The members of the committee have good reason to be angry, not least at the way they were maneuvered into releasing a final report, which will not contain "personal conclusions" about those involved. One of the emerging directions is apparently trenchant professional criticism of the IDF for not warning Olmert and the defense minister, Amir Peretz, both of them inexperienced, that 60 hours would not be enough to chalk up achievements in the last move, when the army tried unsuccessfully to reach the Litani (the only ranking officer who warned against the mistake was the chief of operations at the time, Major General Gadi Eisenkot).

In the meantime, the prime minister's team of spokesman is already working at full tilt. The goal is to wrap Olmert "like an etrog," the delicate Sukkot citrus fruit, in a manner that will neutralize the calls for his resignation. The means are diverse: in-depth briefings with newspaper columnists; meetings of the Olmerts with cabinet ministers and their spouse; a "rare" Channel 2 interview with Aliza Olmert, the prime minister's wife; and of course the visit by U.S. President George W. Bush on the eve of the report's publication. It may also be necessary to organize a precise leak to the foreign press that will finally reveal what the Israel Air Force did in Syria on September 6. Already now, in the wake of the Annapolis conference, large parts of the political left appear to be persuaded. Forget about the events of the Saluki Valley in southern Lebanon. Olmert is the new etrog.

Politically, the ministers and MKs are united in their praise of the prime minister's performance. This week he pushed through the budget without visible effort and on Wednesday he declared that he has no intention of resigning in the wake of the Winograd Committee report. It is still hard to see whether this proficiency will ultimately be translated into votes as well. If so, it will be a genuine political miracle, equal to the return of Ariel Sharon as prime minister 19 years after the first Lebanon War. Anything is possible, but one group, at least, will probably find it hard to vote for Olmert after the events of the last 60 hours in Lebanon are fully revealed: the parents of soldiers who are still serving in both the regular and the career army.

Explosieven verpakt in EU suikerzakken voor de Gazastrook

Eerder deze maand werd bij een checkpoint 6,5 ton aan Potassium nitraat, een stof die bij de fabricatie van explosieven wordt gebruikt, ontdekt die waren verstopt in suikerzakken met opschrift van de Europese Unie. Zij waren bestemd voor de Gazastrook.
Dit maakt wederom duidelijk waarom Israël controle wil houden over alles wat de de Gazastrook in komt.
Caught at checkpoint - 6.5 Tons of Potassium Nitrate Used for Terror Discovered in Sugar Bags Marked as EU Assistance
Explosieven verpakt in suikerzakken EU

December 29th, 2007

6.5 Tons of Potassium Nitrate Used for Terror Discovered in Sugar Bags Marked as EU Assistance

Now released for publication: In a joint IDF and ISA operation several weeks ago, a truck was caught at one of the crossing points in Judea and Samaria carrying approximately 6.5 tons of Potassium Nitrate. The Potassium Nitrate was disguised in sugar bags, and was intended for use by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Potassium Nitrate is a banned substance in the Gaza Strip and the Judea and Samaria region due to its use by terrorists for the manufacturing of explosives and Qassam rockets.

The terror organizations disguised the Potassium Nitrate in sugar bags that were marked as being part of the humanitarian aid provided by the European Union. This is another example of how the terror organizations exploit the humanitarian aid that is delivered to the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip with Israel's approval.

zaterdag 29 december 2007

Palestijnse vluchtelingen zonder identiteitskaart rechtenloos in Libanon

Erger dan de 'gewone' Palestijnse vluchtelingen in Libanon zijn de Palestijnse vluchtelingen zonder identiteitspapieren eraan toe. Zij zijn niet alleen statenloos, maar bestaan letterlijk niet voor de Libanese autoriteiten, waardoor zij volledig rechtenloos zijn. Ze kunnen zelfs geen aanspraak maken op hulp van de UNRWA, de VN hulporganisatie die speciaal is opgezet voor Palestijnse vluchtelingen.


MIDEAST: They Do Not Exist, And That Is Official
By Mona Alami - Inter Press Service, 24-12-2007

BEIRUT, Dec 24 (IPS) - In the maze of dirty streets that spreads from Beirut's revamped Sport City to the shabby Halabi quarters, 20,000 refugees are clustered in what is known as the Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian camp. In a town plagued by poverty, many families live in complete destitution.

These forgotten people have fallen through the cracks of legality and belong nowhere: they are known as non-ID Palestinians.

With the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, many Palestinians fled their homeland to Lebanon. Today, there are approximately 400,000 refugees living in the 'Land of the Cedars', some with no documentation, and not registered with either the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) or the Lebanese authorities.

"I fell in love with a Palestinian combatant who came to Lebanon in the 1970s to fight with the PLO during the Lebanese civil war," says a woman who gave her name as Manal, not her real name. That marriage eventually brought her to this camp. "I was foolish and very much in love. My father was opposed to our marriage. The fighter had been smuggled into the country, and hence had no proper documentation. It was the first time I heard of non-IDs."

UNRWA considers as Palestinian refugees "any person whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period of June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost their home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict. UNRWA's services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948."

The agency's categorisation of Palestinian refugees does not include those classified as non-ID holders, leaving them unable to benefit from refugee services, including healthcare.

Non-ID Palestinian refugees also face restrictions on movement outside the camps -- and that is not all. "Aside from the daily difficulties they are confronted with as refugees, second and third generation undocumented Palestinians are beleaguered by other problems such as failing to graduate from school because of lack of proper documentation or the inability to get married and even to partake in ordinary activities," says Mireille Chiha from the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

Nawal lives in one of the many tiny concrete houses in Bourj al-Barajneh. Her handicapped father sits in bed all day. The apartment is damp and gloomy and its scarce windows look out on an alley flooded by a sewage pipe.

"I was married to a Jordanian Palestinian refugee who took part in the 1975 Lebanese civil war. We had two daughters, who both inherited his illegal status. My husband was supposed to regularise his situation, but one day he disappeared and I never saw him again. Today, my daughters are aged 20 and 18; I've been to the Jordanian embassy several times to try to obtain official documentation for them, but it seems their father is the only person allowed to make such a claim."

Nawal worries about her children's future. "How can they marry? They are not recognised by any government agency. It is true that the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) may provide non-IDs with official documentation, which is useful in specific cases such as marriage, but I would much prefer my daughters not to take such a risk, as the organisation is sometimes viewed negatively by many Lebanese."

Sobhi Hassan, a young man in his twenties working as a salesman in one of the camp's shabby stores, has inherited his illegal status as undocumented refugee from his father, who came to Lebanon in the seventies. "When he died, it was like he had never been; he never existed anyway in the eyes of official agencies. I had to drop out of school when I was 15 -- as did my brothers and sisters -- because I was not allowed to attend government exams without the proper identification papers."

The young man was arrested several times at army checkpoints, but says he managed to free himself from the soldiers every time. "I have come to terms with the fact that I can only live and work in the camp; if not, I might be arrested and detained for several months like many others."

Although undocumented refugees share a socio-economic pattern with other Palestinians in Lebanon, they are more isolated than ordinary refugees.

Most non-ID refugees hold some proof of identity that could facilitate legalisation of their situation, because their Palestinian identity can be traced back to an authority once responsible for their documentation such as Jordan or Egypt. But since laws addressing Palestinian refugees have changed, non-IDs have been unable to claim an identity card from these countries of origin.

The current Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has set up a Lebanese-Palestinian dialogue committee to address the issue of non-ID refugees. But it has a long way to go.

Many of the refugees expect little now. "I have decided to never marry," says Hassan. "Why should I expose my kids to this life of hardship and despair?"

Decimering Palestijnse christenen dreigt

Geplaatst op donderdag 27 december 2007 07:36 , laatste wijziging donderdag 27 december 2007 07:38
De Palestijnen hebben het moeilijk, deels als gevolg van hun eigen intifada's. Maar Palestijnse christenen worden ook nog eens door hun eigen islamitische volksgenoten vervolgd. Daardoor zijn velen al geëmigreerd en dreigen vanouds christelijke Palestijnse steden, zoals Bethlehem en Nazareth, vrijwel geheel islamitisch te worden. De EU kan daar wat aan doen. Maar wil ze dat ook?
Bethlehem, de joodse geboorteplaats van Jezus Christus, had bijna 2000 jaar lang een hoofdzakelijk christelijke populatie. In de afgelopen decennia zakte deze echter van 80 procent christenen in 1948 naar minder dan 20 procent vandaag. Vergelijkbare cijfers gelden voor Nazareth, de plek waar Jezus opgroeide: 60 procent christenen in 1948, 40 procent in 1983, en minder dan 15 procent nu. Ramallah was in 1967 een bijna volledig christelijke stad, maar is op dit moment bijna volledig islamitisch. Het totale aantal christenen in de Palestijnse Autoriteit (Gaza/Westbank) is gezakt van 15 procent in 1948 tot minder dan 1,5 procent vandaag.

Uiteraard zijn er de moeilijke leefomstandigheden die voortkomen uit het Palestijnse geweld (twee intifada's) en de Israëlische contra-terreurmaatregelen, maar het hoofdprobleem voor christenen blijft de religieuze vervolging door moslims. Een gegeven dat niet is los te koppelen van het verval van alle Oosterse christenen in het gehele Midden-Oosten. Onder huidige omstandigheden zou een reeds gezakte populatie van 17 miljoen in 2000 zelfs verder dalen tot de helft in 2025. Oosterse christenen emigreren door de stijgende islamisering (zowel demografisch als politiek) en de eruit voortkomende vervolging en verdrukking. Dit in tegenstelling tot Israël, waar een populatie van 34.000 christenen in 1948 bijna vervijfvoudigd is tot 145.400 op dit moment. Dit dankzij de vrijheid en andere die Israël hen biedt.

De meeste Palestijnse christenen beseffen heel goed het verschil tussen een joodse staat of joodse buren enerzijds en islamitische anderzijds. Zo lobbyde de christelijke burgemeester van Bethlehem, Elias Freij, tijdens de onderhandelingen over het Oslo II-akkoord (1995) om zijn stad niet aan de Palestijnse Autoriteit over te hevelen. En de leiders van de Armeense, Latijnse en Grieks-Orthodoxe kerken protesteerden tegen een geplande herverdeling van Jeruzalem door premier Barak in 2000. Veel christenen in Oost-Jeruzalem en Bethlehem hebben toen een Israëlisch paspoort aangevraagd. Velen durven niet openlijk te klagen, maar off the record praten ze vrijuit over de agressie en verdrukking waaraan hun gemeenschap is blootgesteld.

De vervolging van Oosterse christenen is niet te verklaren zonder de islamitische doctrine die elk gebied als islamitisch beschouwt dat ooit door jihad is veroverd. Het arabisch-nationalisme bouwt voort op deze ideologie door die gebieden te zien als het thuisland van de Arabische naties. Het Arabische probleem met Israël is dus niet dat van Arabische Palestijnen zonder eigen staat, maar van niet-moslims die een joodse staat gesticht hebben na eeuwen van islamitisch juk. Het probleem van Oosterse christenen in het Heilige Land is dat zij evenals Joden daar de oorspronkelijke bewoners zijn die dit Arabisch-islamitische suprematiedenken in de weg staan. Hun tweede probleem is de verdrukkende wetten van het traditionele shariarecht, en de cultuur van haat tegen andersgelovigen die het shariadenken genereert.

Vandaar bijvoorbeeld dat Jordanië tussen 1953 en 1967 het christelijke kwartier in het oude stadsgedeelte van Jeruzalem islamiseerde, met 60 procent emigratie als gevolg. Christenen werd verboden om huizen of land te kopen, scholen werden gesloten op moslimfeestdagen, moskeeën werden naast kerken gebouwd zodat deze niet meer konden worden vergroot. Vandaar dat Arafat Bethlehem en omgeving, de grootste enclave christenen in de Palestijnse Autoriteit, doelbewust islamiseerde door o.a. migratie van moslims aan te moedigen. Vandaar ook de boycot van christelijke zaken op de Westbank tijdens de tweede intifada. Vandaar de landroof, verkrachtingen, en gewelddaden door fanatieke moslims, die worden beschermd en gesteund door een islamitische overheid.

Vele westerse hulpverleningsorganisaties, Oxfam en Pax Christi bijvoorbeeld, verdoezelen dit weerkerend patroon van vervolging en verdrukking dat autochtone christenen in islamlanden ondergaan, terwijl ze voortdurend Israël afschilderen als brutale 'bezetter'. Het bewijst dat ze niet bezig zijn met het bestrijden van vervolging of verdrukking, maar wel met het bestrijden van Israël. Nationale overheden moeten de financiering aan hen herzien, en gangbare media moeten ophouden hen een ethisch of neutraal imago te bezorgen. Hetzelfde geldt voor de EU die met ons belastinggeld al jaren hoofdsponsor is van de Palestijnse Autoriteit en Palestijnse hulpverleningsorganisaties, die de vernietiging van Israël voorstaan, zonder dat daar één garantie of voordeel voor de EU tegenover staat. Men had voor die vele miljarden euro's best een apart statuut voor christenen kunnen bewerkstelligen, dat rekening houdt met hun historische rechten in de oudste geboorteplaatsen van het christendom. En als Israël bepaalde nederzettingen heeft afgebroken, kan de Palestijnse Autoriteit best de gedirigeerde migratie naar steden als Bethlehem omkeren.

In deze tijd van wereldwijd jihadgeweld, van Thailand tot Somalië, mag Europa zijn buitenlands beleid niet langer enten op Arabische obsessies die voortkomen uit diezelfde jihadideologie. We helpen enkel met het internationaliseren van een kleinschalig, regionaal grensconflict dat nauwelijks vermeldenswaardig is naast de vele zware conflicten van na de Tweede Wereldoorlog. En Europa als christelijke beschaving kan sowieso niet de vernietiging van weerloze christelijke gemeenschappen en heilige plaatsen blijven sponsoren.

Remi Hauman studeerde in Leuven en behaalde daar een licentiaat islamologie/arabistiek. Op zijn vakgebied heeft hij diverse publicaties op zijn naam staan.

Israëlische Arabieren: 78% tegen overdragen 'Arabische driehoek' aan Palestijnse staat

De 'Triangel' is een gebied in Israël, grenzend aan de Westelijke Jordaanoever, waar voornamelijk Arabieren wonen. De rechts-nationalistische Israel Beiteinu partij heeft voorgesteld dit gebied te ruilen voor de grote nederzettingenblokken, en dit dus aan de Palestijnse Autoriteit over te dragen in een vredesverdrag.
Uit meerdere enquetes komt steeds naar voren dat een grote meerderheid van de Israëlische Arabieren daartegen is.

Poll of Arabs in Israel:
78%:18% Oppose transfer of Triangle to PA,
35% Don't plan to vote in Knesset elections if held now
Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 27 December 2007

Telephone poll of a sample of 450 adult Arabs residing in the Galilee, Triangle and Negev (all in Israel) carried out for and published by the Al-Sennara newspaper (details per press release in Hebrew):

Do you support transferring the Triangle to the Palestinian Authority?
Favor 18%
Oppose 78%

What party would you vote for if elections held now?
Hadash 18%
Ra`am-Ta`al 15%
National Democratic Assembly 6%
Labor 8%
Won't vote for any party 35% [rest refuse reply]

Who is your favorite MK?
Ahmad Tibi 27%
Mohammad Barakeh 16%
[Azmi Bishara was the third most popular MK (% not indicated) though has not been an MK for half a year]
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)

Geen nieuwe bouwplannen voor de Westelijke Jordaanoever

Het blijft onduidelijk of en waar Israël nog bouwt op de Westelijke Jordaanoever.
Terwijl men vasthoudt aan het recht bestaande (en reeds goedgekeurde en aanbestede) plannen nog uit te voeren, is meermaals verklaard geen nieuwe projecten meer te starten, waarbij dan weer een onderscheid wordt gemaakt tussen Jeruzalem en de Westoever, of tussen de grote blokken en de rest, of tussen nederzettingen aan deze en gene zijde van de afscheidingsbarriere. En mag in de nederzettingen die worden uitgesloten van uitbreiding, wel nog voor natuurlijke groei van de bevolking worden gebouwd?
Het mag niet verbazen dat dit alles weinig vertrouwen wekt bij de Palestijnen en bij de internationale gemeenschap. Israël dient een duidelijk signaal af te geven dat men het merendeel van de Westoever niet van plan is te houden, en dat kan alleen door daar geheel met bouwen te stoppen en zelfs nederzettingen te ontruimen. Ik begrijp dat Israël de grote blokken wil houden, maar men vergroot de kans daarop niet met voortgaande bouw terwijl wordt geprobeerd de vredesonderhandelingen nieuw leven in te blazen. Ondertussen schijnt defensieminister Barak sinds zijn aantreden geen enkele vergunning voor nieuwe bouwplannen te hebben afgegeven, maar dat heeft - in tegenstelling tot de geplande uitbreiding van Har Homa - onze kranten en het journaal niet gehaald.

'No new W. Bank building tenders' staff and AP , THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 27, 2007

There will be no new building tenders issued for construction in West Bank settlements and the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged Thursday during a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams in Jerusalem, Army Radio reported.

The Har Homa expansion has been a major stumbling block in the peace process which was kick-started at the Annapolis conference, and while the prime minister vowed that no new tenders would be issued for the east Jerusalem neighborhood, he insisted that tenders already approved could not be canceled.

The two negotiating teams included Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and PA negotiators Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) and Saeb Erekat.

It was the first meeting involving Olmert and Abbas since the Annapolis summit.

Erekat said Abbas stressed the need to stop all settlement activities in order to facilitate the talks on a final peace accord. Although Erekat reported no progress on narrowing the gaps between the two sides, both sides described the two-hour meeting, held at Olmert's official residence, as "positive."

Army Radio gave an even more optimistic account of the talks, saying that the two sides agreed to leave the Har Homa issue behind them and continue with negotiations toward a final settlement.

The negotiating teams also vowed to begin serious discussions on the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in talks scheduled for next week. It was also announced that Olmert and Abbas would follow up those discussions with a meeting in two weeks' time.

Meanwhile, Army Radio reported that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, concerned over the lack of real progress since Annapolis, telephoned Olmert and Abbas on Wednesday night, urging them to overcome their differences and move the peace process forward.

Before Thursday's negotiations began, Hamas pronounced the meeting a "waste of time."

"Olmert and his government continue their daily aggressions against our people, continue to build settlements, and don't recognize Palestinian political and national rights," the group said.

Volkstelling Gazastrook hervat na toestemming Hamas

Hoeveel mensen wonen er nou precies in de Gazastrook?
Een paar jaar geleden had men het over een miljoen, en op een gegeven moment begonnen de kranten anderhalf miljoen te schrijven, wat op een wel erg grote bevolkingsgroei zou duiden... In feite weten de kranten het gewoon niet precies, en eigenlijk niemand, maar daar komt binnenkort verandering in, want Hamas heeft eindelijk toegestemd in een volkstelling in de Gazastrook.
Volkstellingen liggen gevoelig bij de Palestijnen. Enerzijds zijn er rechtse Israëli's die hopen dat zo aangetoond wordt dat Israël ook met de bezette gebieden een stevige Joodse meerderheid houdt. Zij beweren dat de Palestijnen de bevolkingscijfers bewust overdrijven. Anderzijds menen de meeste mensen in Israël dat Israël niet Joods en democratisch kan blijven als het de bezette gebieden zou houden, en dat is een krachtig argument tegen de bezetting.
Dat het Palestijnse Bureau voor de Statistiek jarenlang te hoge cijfers aangaf klopt waarschijnlijk wel. Die cijfers waren gebaseerd op een telling uit de jaren '90 en nooit bijgestelde prognoses die destijds uitgingen van een onafhankelijke staat vanaf 1999 waarheen Palestijnen zouden terugkeren, terwijl er feitelijk sinds de tweede intifada een negatief migratiesaldo is. Ook het geboortecijfer zou zijn gedaald.
Los van de precieze uitkomst lijkt het duidelijk dat de bevolkingsgroei in Gaza onhoudbaar is, en een levensvatbare staat ook zonder Israëlische beperkingen onmogelijk maakt. Hopelijk zwengelt de census de discussie over geboortecontrole en andere maatregelen tegen de bevolkingsgroei aan, en dat is waarschijnlijk ook waarom Hamas er tegen is.
Ratna & Wouter

Gaza census renewed after Hamas agrees to use of data 
By Amira Hass
Employees of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics began collecting data Monday for a population census in the Gaza Strip after a hiatus of several weeks. In August, the PCBS began a comprehensive survey of populations, economic enterprises, homes and other buildings in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

In late November, the Hamas government in Gaza established a committee to monitor the census-takers' activities in the strip and demanded that it receive all of the collected data in advance.

PCBS director Dr. Louay Shabaneh refused the request, on the grounds that the PCBS is not a political organization and owes allegiance only to the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah.

In response, the Hamas government closed the PCBS offices and halted work on the census. This week an agreement was reached that has allowed the census to continue, with the mediation of Dr. Mustafa Barghouti and two United Nations agencies.

On Monday, nine days after data collection in the West Bank was completed, 1,600 census takers began working in Gaza. The census is expected to take two weeks.

The agreement marks the first time since the Hamas takeover of Gaza last June, that the government has climbed down after flexing its muscles in the face of an important PA institution.

Barghouti, who in January 2006 was a PA presidential candidate, says the PCBS asked him to mediate in the dispute. Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a minister in the former PA unity government, was joined by UNFPA, the UN Population Fund, and UNSCO, the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East.

The agreement stipulates that PCBS will collect and analyze the data and the results "will be submitted to everyone, including people in Gaza," Barghouti said.

The $8.6 million cost of the census is being underwritten by the PA, the UN, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the OPEC states. Shabaneh said yesterday that the mediation effort succeeded after he and his fellow mediators explained that the PCBS is an independent, nonpolitical, nonpartisan institution that provides services to the entire Palestinian public.

The data that is collective is always available to everyone and is posted on the organization's Web site. Shabaneh said the census takers were welcomed warmly into the homes they have visited in Gaza during their first two days of work there.

vrijdag 28 december 2007

Israël is "bezet Palestina" volgens Syrisch persbureau

De tijden dat Israël in de Arabische wereld de 'Zionistische entiteit' of 'bezet Palestina' heette, zijn helaas nog geen verleden tijd.


Number of 'Immigrants' to Occupied Palestine Lowest in 20 Years
Monday, December 24, 2007 - 03:30 PM
www.sana. sy/eng/22/2007/12/24/154136.htm
[The Syrian news agency]

Occupied Jerusalem, (A.F.P.) - The figures published by the Israeli 'ministry of absorption' on Monday revealed that the number of those who arrived into occupied Palestine this year had declined to its lowest record in 20 years.

The figures disclosed that the number of what they called 'newcomers' were only 19,700 people in 2007, down six percent from 2006.

Ahmad Fathi ZAHRA

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Joseph en Maria in Bethlehem

In Nederland zijn United Civilians for Peace en (de daarbij aangesloten) Pax Christi en IKV goede voorbeelden van de hieronder genoemde eenzijdige focus op Israëls (mis)daden.
Wie dezer dagen zo graag Joseph en Maria bij de 'Apartheidsmuur' afbeelden op alternatieve kerstkaarten, zouden zich ook eens mogen afvragen hoe veilig het stel in hedendaags Bethlehem zou kunnen vertoeven (zonder Israëlische bescherming).
In tegenstelling tot de moderne linkse misvatting was Jezus namelijk geen Palestijn maar een Jood.
Ratna & Wouter

Op-Ed: Good will to all mankind - Unless you're Israeli
Dan Kosky -
December 26, 2007
For annotated item including illustration:

There is something predictable about Christmas time - Fairy lights in the high street, seasonal music in the shops, and the arrival of a small envelope in your letter box, asking for a donation, often to Christian based charities such as War on Want and Christian Aid.  Sadly, this appeal for festive generosity is intrinsically linked to a more recent Christmas trend - the blanket condemnation and demonization of Israel.

A similar theme every year describes how Bethlehem, the historical and theological epicentre of Christmas, is a 'ghetto' under siege by the brutal Israeli occupation and the 'apartheid wall'. This one-sided narrative and highly charged rhetoric not only ignores the very real context of terror, internal Palestinian conflict and the persecution of Palestinian Christians, but it also reveals a cynical exploitation of Christian sensibilities for crude political gain.  Worryingly, some of the worst offenders are the supposedly apolitical Christian based charities, who de-legitimise Israel, while at the same time raising funds for their 'Christmas Campaign.'

This year, if you wish to donate to War on Want, you can simply visit their website, where you can purchase highly politicized Christmas cards (10 for GBP 4). The card depicts Joseph and a heavily pregnant Mary, unable to reach Bethlehem, due to "Israel's Separation Wall and a state-of-the-art military checkpoint." The suggestion of deicide is only a small step away.
Meanwhile, another Christian based charity, the Amos Trust is marketing 'poignant, ironic' nativity scenes, manufactured in Bethlehem, in which an unmistakable high wall means that "this year the wise men won't get to the stable."  Churches are urged to spend GBP 50 on a larger version of the model, to spread this distorted message to the masses.

Unfortunately, such Israel-bashing is not just for Christmas - it continues all year long.  As NGO Monitor's research has consistently revealed, Christian Aid works closely with replacement theologians such as Rev Naim Ateek, who compares Israel's treatment of the Palestinians to the crucifixion of Jesus. Until recently, the entire 'conflict' section of the Christian Aid website was devoted to the plight of the Palestinians - as if there were no other conflicts in the world, and as if Israel has no right of defence against terror.  Meanwhile, War on Want not only accuses Israel of a 'campaign of apartheid,' but enthusiastically supports the boycott campaign against the Jewish state.

The mandate of these NGOs is to fight poverty, hunger and disease - All noble aims, which are being seriously undermined by their obsessive condemnation of Israel.  Only when the same standards are applied to all countries, in accordance with true universal human rights values, will the likes of Christian Aid and War on Want be considered credible vehicles for social change. Until then, the exploitation of Christmas continues and we should all think twice when that small envelope arrives in our letter box.

Dan Kosky is Communications Director of NGO Monitor.
This oped will be published in the Jewish News (London) this week

Hamas controleert tunnels: wapens, explosieven en sigaretten toegestaan, drugs niet

Een einde aan de wapensmokkel zou een voorwaarde moeten zijn voor iedere samenwerking met Hamas, en voor een eventueel staakt-het-vuren tussen Israël en de Hamas.
Terwijl er tekort zou zijn aan essentiële levensmiddelen en medicijnen, zijn er zoveel geweren dat die niet langer worden 'geimporteerd'.
Vreemde wereld in Gaza.

Hamas controls tunnels: weapons, explosives and cigarettes allowed - not drugs
Dr. Aaron Lerner  26 December 2007

Israel Radio Arab Affairs Correspondent Gal Berger reported on the morning news magazine that Hamas now completely controls the smuggling tunnels running from the Egyptian Sinai to the Gaza Strip after closing down smugglers who refused to cooperate.

Hamas requires the smugglers to provide detailed reports of the smuggling activity and has imposed restrictions on the smuggling of drugs.

While weapons, ammunition and explosives are being "imported" via the tunnels, Berger notes that assault rifles are not currently being smuggled in since "there are so many of them in the Gaza Strip that they could be exported."

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Volgens 46% Israëli's Peres man van het jaar; volgens 44% Katzav verliezer van het jaar

Misschien hadden ze ook naar de vrouw van het jaar moeten vragen en had Livni dan een kans gemaakt, of natuurlijk één of andere soapster, want van de Israëlische politiek wordt je niet erg vrolijk. Vorig jaar was de vraag wat de gebeurtenis van het jaar was een heel stuk makkelijker te beantwoorden, en dat was niet te verkiezen boven dit saaie jaar.


Polls: 46% Peres man of the year 44% Katzav loser of the year
Dr. Aaron Lerner
Date: 27 December 2007

Telephone poll of a representative sample of 528 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by Maagar Mohot Survey Institute (headed by Professor Yitzchak Katz for Israel Radio's "Its all Talk" on 26 December 2007. 
Statistical error +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Of the following who is man of the year?
Olmert 10%
Barak 4%
Netanyahu 10%
Peres 46%
Other 30%

What was the event of the year?
Annapolis 9%
Winograd interim report 8%
Sept. 9 IAF attack in Syria (according to foreign press) 26%
High school and university strike 42%
Conflict between minister of justice and Supreme Court president Beinish 5%
Other 10%

Who was the loser of the year?
Abraham Hirchson 9%
Amir Peretz 25%
Moshe Katzav 44%
Other 22%
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)

Israëlische Arabieren willen in meerderheid Israëlisch staatsburger blijven

De meeste Arabieren in Israël willen Israëlisch staatsburger blijven na de creatie van een Palestijnse staat. Dit is niks nieuws, maar gezien de toenemende agitatie tegen Israël door met name de leiders van de Arabische gemeenschap in Israël, is het wel opmerkelijk. Velen zien zichzelf meer als Palestijn dan als Israëli, en zijn tegen het voortbestaan van het huidige Israël.

Israeli Arabs prefer remainig Israeli citizens over PA citizenship 62%:14%
Dr. Aaron Lerner 26 December, 2007

Poll Methodology Representative sample 514 Israeli Arabs Over 18 years old
Phone calls: 3-5 Dec. 2007
+ - 4.5% margin of error. 
KEEVOON Research, Strategy & Communications.

1. "There has been a lot of talk lately about the formation of a new Palestinian State.  It has been suggested by some that Israeli Arabs could continue to live in Israel, but change their citizenship to the new Palestinian State.  Given the choice, and continuing to live where you presently live today, would you prefer to be a citizen of Israel or of a new Palestinian State?"

Remain Israeli citizens 62% Join a future Palestinian State 14%
No opinion or refused to answer 24%

The strongest support for remaining citizens of Israel was exhibited by members of the Druse community, 84% of whom would choose Israel.  Lower income households also showed strong support with 71% of them choosing Israel.  Men were more likely than women to choose to remain Israeli citizens (67% vs. 56%).  The strongest support for becoming citizens of a future Palestinian State was among students with 21% as opposed to the average of 14%.   The largest percentage of undecided citizens was among Christian Arab Israelis with 43% compared to the average of 24%.

2. Among Olmert, Barak or Netanyahu, who is more likely to make peace with the Palestinian Authority and Israel's neighbors.
Barak 18% Olmert 8% Netanyahu 7% None of them 36% No opinion or refused to answer 28%

Barak's greatest support is among the Druse with 29%.  Netanyahu's greatest support is among residents of the Negev (22%) and 45-55 year olds (19%).
47% of Christian Arabs and students didn't know or refused to answer this question.

IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Hamas TV kinderprogramma bezingt martelaarschap en bevrijding Tiberias

Uit het kinderprogramma van Hamas TV:
"Award your victory to those who sacrifice themselves. This is your wedding, oh martyr.
   May all the martyrs be resurrected, and we will celebrate this day.
   Award your victory to those who sacrifices themselves. This is your wedding, oh martyr.
   We saw the joy in the eyes of the children. Oh Gaza, make that joy grow,
   when this homeland is liberated from Tiberias to Anaba,
   when this homeland is liberated from Tiberias to Anaba.
   We liberated Gaza by force, not by Oslo or by Taba –
   but with my steadfast people, and with its blazing fire."
Saraa Tells Kids "We Can All be Sacrificed for the Sake of the Homeland"
Voor de duidelijkheid: Tiberias ligt niet in de bezette gebieden, maar in Israël.
Het lijkt me niet echt een toepasselijke opmerking naar kinderen dat zij allen geofferd kunnen worden voor het vaderland, waarbij dit vaderland bovendien het grondgebied van een soevereine door de VN erkende staat omvat. Ik vraag me af of Martijn van Dam, Mariko Peters en Harry van Bommel, allen voorstanders van een dialoog met Hamas, dit verantwoorde kinderkost vinden. Zo niet, dan kunnen zij daar Hamas in een volgend bezoek wellicht eens kritisch over aanspreken.

Below are excerpts from a song performed by child TV host Saraa Barhoum, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on December 20, 2007. Following that are excerpts from the children's show hosted by Saraa Barhoum, "Pioneers of Tomorrow," which also aired on Al-Aqsa TV on December 20, 2007.

Past episodes of "Pioneers of Tomorrow" featured Mickey Mouse-lookalike character Farfour, who was "martyred" on the show in June 2007 and was replaced by Nahoul the bee.

Saraa Sings: "Oh Gaza... Let Your Lighthouse Illuminate the Sea Of Blood"

Saraa Barhoum: "We liberated Gaza by force, not by Oslo or by Taba –
   but with my steadfast people, and with its blazing fire.
   We liberated Gaza by force, not by Oslo or by Taba –
   but with my steadfast people, and with its blazing fire.
   Rafah sings, and the Kalashnikov replies.
   Rafah sings, and the Kalashnikov replies.
   We, who know no fear, are the lions of the jungle.
   Look how beautiful our Gaza is. We crowned it with a laurel wreath.
   We have proven that with our will, we can defeat the colonialist army.
   Look how beautiful our Gaza is. We crowned it with a laurel wreath.
   We have proven that with our will, we can defeat the colonialist army.
   We have regained our freedom through bloodshed and the wrath of fire.
   We came out on the day of liberations to celebrate our pride – hurrah!
   We came out on the day of liberations to celebrate our pride – hurrah!"[...]
   Oh Gaza, the first stone [of the Intifada], where we celebrated our victory –
   raise your sail for the sailors, and let your lighthouse illuminate the sea of blood.
   Oh Gaza, the first stone [of the Intifada], where we celebrated our victory –
   raise your sail for the sailors, and let your lighthouse illuminate the sea of blood.
   If we receive good tidings, we will meet our death with no hesitation.
   We are the swords of Allah, we are the victorious armies.
   We are the swords of Allah, we are the victorious armies."[...]
   May all the martyrs be resurrected, and we will celebrate this day."

"Award Your Victory to Those Who Sacrifice Themselves, This is Your Wedding, Oh Martyr"

"Award your victory to those who sacrifice themselves. This is your wedding, oh martyr.
   May all the martyrs be resurrected, and we will celebrate this day.
   Award your victory to those who sacrifices themselves. This is your wedding, oh martyr.
   We saw the joy in the eyes of the children. Oh Gaza, make that joy grow,
   when this homeland is liberated from Tiberias to Anaba,
   when this homeland is liberated from Tiberias to Anaba.
   We liberated Gaza by force, not by Oslo or by Taba –
   but with my steadfast people, and with its blazing fire."

Saraa Tells Kids "We Can All be Sacrificed for the Sake of the Homeland"

Saraa, child host: "Nahoul, don't you want to convey your holiday greetings on the Feast of the Sacrifice?"

Nahoul, a giant bee: "Convey greetings, Saraa?"

Saraa: "Yes."

Nahoul: "Who should I convey greetings to, Saraa? Should I convey greetings to my brother, who was martyred in the first Intifada, at the hands of the Zionist Jews? Should I convey greetings to my second brother, who was martyred in the second Intifada? Should I convey greetings to my wounded brother, to my aunt, who was martyred because of the siege, or to her orphans? Who is there for me to greet, Saraa? I won't greet anyone. I am so sad, Saraa."


Saraa: "Don't be sad, Nahoul."

Nahoul: "I won't even convey greetings to my mother, who suffers from diabetes, or to my father, who suffers from hepatitis C. Who should I convey greetings to, Saraa? You're rubbing salt in my wounds."

Saraa: "Don't be sad, Nahoul. We can all be sacrificed for the sake of the homeland. May Allah help you. All we can say is that we place our trust in Allah against the enemies."

Nahoul: "We place our trust in Allah."


Saraa: "Hadil, did you slaughter a sheep today?"

Hadil, on the phone: "No, a calf."

Nahoul: "A calf, wow! Who did you share the calf with, after you slaughtered it?"

Hadil: "And what did you slaughter?"

Nahoul: "We didn't get to slaughter anything because we are poor and miserable. What did you do with the meat of the calf?"

Hadil: "We gave it to poor people, to the miserable, and to our relatives, and we took some home."

Nahoul: "Wow! Well done. She knows and understands it all, Saraa."


Saraa: "How old are you, Yaqin?"

Yaqin, on the phone: "I am 13 years old."

Nahoul: "Wow!"

Saraa: "13 is big."

Nahoul: "Yaqin, I want to ask you a question."

Yaqin: "Go ahead."

Nahoul: "Let's say we got a calf on the night before the holiday. We kept the calf because we wanted to slaughter it after the holiday prayer. We went to slaughter the calf, but we found it dead. What should we do?"

Yaqin: "Buy a sheep."

Nahoul: "But what if we don't... But what if we don't have enough money?"

Yaqin: "It's the thought that counts."

Nahoul: "Great. That's brilliant. What's her name?"

Saraa: "Yaqin."

Nahoul: "Yaqin from Gaza."

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: .
* To view the clip from "Pioneers of Tomorrow," visit:
* To view the clip of the song by host Saraa Barhoum, visit:
* To view the MEMRI TV page on Al-Aqsa TV, visit:
* To view the MEMRI TV page on indoctrination of children, visit:

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East.
Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

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donderdag 27 december 2007

Christenen onder druk in Gaza en Bethlehem

Het vertrek van steeds meer christenen uit de Palestijnse gebieden wordt vaak Israël aangewreven (zoals alles), maar is in de eerste plaats een gevolg van de opkomst van het intolerante islamisme van Hamas en co. Niet iedereen geeft dat toe: het is minder gevaarlijk om Israël de schuld te geven dan de moslimextremisten.
De afname van het aantal christenen zou ook worden veroorzaakt door een lager geboortecijfer, en het zou voor hen makkelijker en/of aantrekkelijker zijn om een betere toekomst te zoeken in het Westen, zoals de kinderen van de burgemeester van Bethlehem. Een klein lichtpuntje is dat het toerisme naar Bethlehem de laatste jaren weer aantrekt.
Gaza / Christenen doelwit militanten
Moord op werknemer Bijbelgenootschap in Gaza

In Gaza, waar de radicale Hamas het voor het zeggen heeft, wordt het steeds onveiliger voor christenen. Ook in andere plaatsen zoals Bethlehem, zien christenen zich gedwongen te vluchten.

In de summier ingerichte flat doet Pauline Ajad haar verhaal, sec, met ingehouden emotie. Daarvoor heeft ze voor de camera geposeerd, een kind op de arm, foto van haar echtgenoot Rami in de hand. Rami werkte in Gaza voor het christelijke Bijbelgenootschap. Tot hij werd ontvoerd, gemarteld en doodgeschoten.

„Het was donderdag, vier oktober", vertelt Pauline. „Rami kwam thuis en zei dat hij gevolgd was door een auto met een onleesbaar kenteken. Toen zijn broer ging kijken, reed de auto met drie bebaarde inzittenden weg. Maar later stond 'ie weer voor de deur. Twee dagen later, zaterdag, belde Rami, hij was nog even een boodschap doen, maar zou zo thuis zijn. 's Avonds belde hij, en klonk angstig. Hij zei dat hij ver weg was, in gezelschap, en laat zou zijn, maar misschien ook niet meer zou terugkeren. De volgende ochtend vonden ze zijn lichaam op straat. Hij was neergestoken en meerdere malen in zijn hoofd geschoten."

De enige uitleg die Pauline (30) heeft, is dat Rami is gedood omdat hij christen was. „Achteraf waren er tekenen aan de wand. Twee maanden eerder was een sjeik op Rami afgestapt die zei: ik kan je tot de islam bekeren. Rami had geantwoord dat hij overtuigd christen is. De man had gewaarschuwd dat Rami hier nog spijt van zou krijgen."

Na de moord vluchtte Pauline met haar twee kleine kinderen naar de Westoever, naar een voorstadje van Bethlehem, waar de werkgevers van Rami voor haar een flat hebben gehuurd. Maar ze wil terug naar Gaza. „Daar ben ik geboren en getogen, daar heb ik mijn familie en vrienden." Is ze niet bang? „Nee, ik denk dat de dood van Rami voorbestemd was en ook mijn lot ligt vast."

Volgens een Israëlische krant zouden de kidnappers zijn opgepakt. Ze zouden behoren tot de beweging van de salafieten die de 'christelijke kruisvaarders' willen verdrijven. Vele christenen zijn, na meerdere incidenten, al uit Gaza vertrokkken. Maar ook Bethlehem op de Westoever zou volgens sommige christenen al minder veilig zijn. De eigenaar van een christelijke tv-zender heeft zijn station onlangs gesloten. „Het geld was op", zo benadrukt hij en haalt uit naar een Israëlische krant die had geschreven dat hij door moslims was bedreigd. „Schrijf dat alsjeblieft niet, het heeft me zoveel ellende gegeven, het is gevaarlijk voor me." Hij weigert uit te weiden.

Op het stadhuis in Bethlehem ontkent burgemeester Victor Batarseh in alle toonaarden dat ook in zijn stad christenen klagen over groeiende druk en dreigementen van islamitische zijde.

Het Palestijns gezag heeft per decreet vastgelegd dat in Bethlehem en nog negen andere plaatsen de burgemeester een christen moet zijn, ook al is door het vertrek van de christenen een meerderheid van Bethlehem moslim. De emigratie van de christenen uit zijn stad wijt Bataseh aan de Israëlische oppressie. „Mijn eigen kinderen zijn naar Californië vertrokken omdat ze hier geen toekomst hebben." Ik heb zelf enige tijd in de VS gewoond, maar ben toch maar weer teruggekeerd. Ik ben hier een gerespecteerd burger en heb nog nooit iets van islamitische dreigingen of van discriminatie gemerkt."

De 73-jarige burgervader is fel tegen het Hamasbewind in Gaza en tegen iedere vermenging van godsdienst en staat. Bevreesd dat Hamas uiteindelijk zijn macht over de Westoever zal uitbreiden is hij niet. „Maar we moeten waakzaam blijven."