Posts Tagged ‘palestinian’

Smashing the Abbas icon of Palestinian non – violence

October 14, 2015

By Nicola Nasser*

Indisputably, the 80 – year old President Mahmoud Abbas has established himself internally and worldwide as the icon of Palestinian non – violence. His Israeli peace partners leave none in doubt that they are determined to smash this icon, which would leave them only with opposite alternatives the best of which is a massive peaceful intifada (uprising) against the Israeli occupation.

It is true that Abbas cannot yet be called the Ghandi of Palestine. He has yet to follow in the footsteps of the founder of modern India and deliver similar national results by leading a massive popular revolution for liberation and independence, but his strictly adhered to non – violence platform continues to be the prerequisite for any peaceful settlement of the Arab – Israeli conflict in and over Palestine.

For decades, before and after the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories was completed in 1967, Abbas has stuck to his belief in negotiations as the only way to settle the more than a century old conflict. Building on Abbas’ legacy, his chief negotiator, Saeb Erakat, wrote his book, “Life Is Negotiations.”

Abbas has all along rejected “armed struggle” and all forms of violence. He even did his best to avoid popular uprisings lest they glide into violence. Instead he has unequivocally opted to act as a man of state committed to international law and United Nations legitimacy.

Ever since he was elected as president he conducted Palestinian politics accordingly to make his people an integral part of the international community. His respect to the signed accords with Israel raised backlash among his own people when he described, for example, the security coordination agreement with the Hebrew state as “sacred.”

Demonising Abbas

Nonetheless, the Israelis are still persisting on an unabated campaign to demonise Abbas, tarnish his image, undermine his peace credentials and deprive him of any gains for his people.

A Haaretz editorial on Oct. 4 said that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “fanning the flames of incitement against” Abbas. On Oct. 10, The Times of Israel quoted the Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon as saying that “We have come a long way to convince Israeli society that he’s (i.e. Abbas) no partner.”

Evidently, this is the only way for the Israelis to absolve themselves from their signed peace commitments. Ya’alon’s deputy, Eli Ben – Dahan, was quoted on the same day as saying that “Palestinians have to understand they won’t have a state and Israel will rule over them.”

The Israeli minister of education Naftali Bennett, speaking to the army radio on Oct. 11, raised the anti – Abbas ante to an adventurous and irresponsible end game when he said that Abbas’ “absence is better.”

Bennett left it to the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, to explain the raison d’être for his call for the “absence” of Abbas. In a Ynetnews article on Oct. 3, Oren concluded absurdly that “Abbas poses a danger which may be revealed as strategically more serious than the tactical dangers posed by (the Islamic Resistance Movement) Hamas.”

Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman was more forthright when he called on Oct. 12 for Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank to be “overthrown.”

According to William Booth, writing in The Washington Post on Oct. 10, “Israeli (Cabinet) ministers have branded Abbas ‘a terrorist in a suit’ and ‘inciter in chief’. They mock him as weak,” ignoring that their smearing campaign accompanied by their government’s determination to undermine his peace – making efforts is making him weaker internally and render the “two – state solution” a non – starter among his people.

A poll released by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research on Oct. 6 found that 65% of the public want Abbas to resign and if new presidential elections were held the deputy chief of the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,” Ismail Haniyeh, would win 49 percent of the votes against 44 percent for Abbas. The “main findings” indicated a “decline in the level of support for the two – state solution” as 51 percent “opposed” this solution. What is more important in this context was that “57% support a return to an armed intifada.”

International Community Indifference

The Israeli anti – Abbas campaign could only be interpreted as a premeditated endeavour to evade a mounting international pressure for saving the so – called “two – state solution.”

The cancelation of a visit scheduled for last week by senior envoys of the international Middle East Quartet upon Netanyahu’s request was the latest example of the world community’s helplessness and indifference vis – a – vis Israel’s sense of impunity against accountability, which empowers the Israeli occupying power to escalate its crackdown on Palestinians under its military occupation since 1967.

In particular, U.S. President Barak Obama Administration’s “reversals” and “empty promises,” in the words of Peter Berkowitz on Oct. 13, to Abbas as well as the inaction of the European Union and the other two Russian and UN members of the Quartet are encouraging Israel in its anti – Abbas campaign, thus discrediting the Palestinian icon of non – violence further in the eyes of his own people as incapable of delivery to walk away from his non – violent path.

On Oct. 12 the AFP reported that the “frustrated’ Palestinians “have defied” both Abbas and the “Israeli security crackdown” to launch what many observers are calling the beginnings of a “third intifada.”

To his credit, Abbas proved true to his non – violence commitment. Israeli daily Haaretz on Oct. 11 quoted a senior official of the Israeli Shabak intelligence agency as telling a cabinet meeting on the same day “that not only does Abbas not support ‘terrorist attacks’ but also tells PA security services to ‘undermine’ anti-Israel protests as much as possible.”

Abbas was on record recently to tell “our Israeli neighbours that we do not want a security or military escalation. My message to our people, security agencies and leaders is that the situation must calm down.” He warned against “an intifada which we don’t want.” On Oct. 6, he publicly told a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) that “we want to reach a political solution by peaceful means and not at all by any other means.”

The practical translation of his on record “principles” was self evident on the ground during the past two weeks of Palestinian rebellion against the escalating violence of the illegal Israeli settlers of the occupied Palestinian territories and the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), especially in eastern Jerusalem, which so far claimed the lives of more than 25 Palestinians and at least four Israelis in October 2015.

Within the PA security mandate, violence was practiced by the IOF only and only Palestinians were killed. Mutual violence was confined to Jerusalem, the area designated “C” by the Oslo accords in the West Bank and Israel proper, where security is an exclusive Israeli responsibility. There Abbas has no mandate. Most victims of both sides fell there and there only Israel should be held responsible and accountable.

One could not but wonder whether eastern Jerusalem and area “C” of the West Bank would have seen no violence had Abbas’ security mandate been extended to include both areas. U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who announced on Tuesday plans to visit “soon” to calm down the violence, should consider this seriously.

Ending the Israeli occupation is the only way to move the situation “away from this precipice,” lest, in Kerry’s words, the two-state solution, “could conceivably be stolen from everybody” if violence were to spiral out of control.

In 1974 late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat appealed to the UN General Assembly to “not let the olive branch fall from my hand,” saying that he was holding a “freedom fighter’s gun” in his other hand. Abbas embraced the “olive branch” with both hands and dropped the “gun” forever.

In May this year, Pope Francis told Abbas during a visit to the Vatican: “I thought about you: May you be an angel of peace.” The Jewish Virtual Library’s biography of the Palestinian President vindicates the Pope’s vision. It hailed him as “considered one of the leading Palestinian figures devoted to the search for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict… It was Abbas who signed the 1993 peace accord with Israel.

End of Era

Writing in Al – Ahram Weekly on Oct. 12, the President of Arab American Institute, James Zogby, was one only of several observers who announced recently the “burial” of the Oslo accords. In “fact” Oslo “was on life support” and “has been dying for years” Zogby said, concluding: “What happened this week was the final burial rite.”

The Oslo accords were the crown of Abbas’ life – long endeavour. The “burial” of Oslo would inevitably be the end Abbas’ era.

Smashing the Abbas icon of Palestinian non – violence would herald an end to his era, dooming for a long time to come any prospect for a negotiated peaceful solution. His “absence,” according to Gershon Baskin, the Co-Chairman of Israel/Palestine Center for research and Information (IPCRI), will be “definitely the end of an era” and “will be a great loss for Israel and for those who seek true peace.”

Israelis by their ongoing campaign of defamation of Abbas would be missing an irreversible historic opportunity for making peace.

However, Abbas will go down in Palestinian chronicles as a national symbol of non – violence, who raced against time to make what has so far proved to be an elusive peace. Despite his failure, thanks to Israeli unrealistic dreams of “Greater Israel,” he will be the pride of his people in future in spite of the current widespread national opposition to his life – long commitment.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com).

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Palestinian reconciliation at crossroads

September 15, 2014

By Nicola Nasser*
President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah movement, which he commands, have unleashed a media campaign against Hamas and the resistance. If pressure from the Palestinian public fails to stop the campaign, Abbas may achieve politically what Israel failed to achieve militarily: forcing the Palestinian presidency to choose “peace with Israel” over national reconciliation.

It appears that President Abbas has, indeed, prioritised “peace with Israel.” He has devised plans for resuming negotiations, and is still banking on American support for such talks. This is the only explanation for the current anti-Hamas media campaign.

Abbas sent his negotiators — Saeb Erekat, Majed Faraj and Maen Erekat — to Washington, where they met with US Secretary of State John Kerry a week ago last Wednesday. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki described the more than two-hour meeting as “constructive”. Abbas then prepared to obtain an Arab mandate, which seems guaranteed in advance, for his plans from the 142nd session of the Arab foreign ministers conference, held in Cairo this week.

However, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power poured cold water over the Palestinian Authority (PA) president’s bid to obtain US backing for his plan, which he intends to put before the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly. The proposal would end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza within three years, during which period negotiations would resume within three months with the occupying power over its borders with the Palestinian state.

“We don’t think there are shortcuts or unilateral measures that can be taken at the United Nations or anyplace else that will bring about the outcome that the Palestinian people most seek,” Power said in a press conference last week. “To think that you can come to New York and secure what needs to be worked out on the ground is not realistic.”

This clearly translates into an unequivocal US “No.” The Palestinian president’s new plan has run up against the same American wall that Palestinian negotiators have faced since negotiations were adopted as a strategic approach. The Zionist route remains the only way these negotiators can access the White House and the UN Security Council.

There can be only one explanation for this plan. It is in fulfilment of a Palestinian promise not to resist the occupation and to offer the occupying power the opportunity to agree to yet another futile round of negotiations. Such negotiations will give Israel the time it needs to turn the Givaot colony into a major settler city on the 4,000 dunams of Palestinian land that it has just seized by declaring it “state land”.

The purpose of this appropriation is to separate the Hebron and South Bethlehem governorates in the West Bank. It is also a means to deflect international humanitarian pressure in reaction to Israeli war crimes in Gaza, to evade Israel’s obligations to the truce agreement with the resistance in Gaza, and to fuel internal Palestinian tensions until they reignite once more.

It was not Hamas or the resistance that described Abbas’s new plan as a “spurious process”. It was independent Palestinian figures who expressed their views in a statement read out by Mamdouh Al-Akr, general commissioner of the Independent Organisation of Human Rights, on 2 September in Ramallah. They called for an urgent meeting of the unified leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), in accordance with the Cairo agreement of 2011, so that it can serve as a frame of reference for the Palestinian will and take critical national decisions.

Activating the unified leadership framework of the PLO will put President Abbas’s call for a “single Palestinian central authority”, uniquely empowered to “determine matters of war and peace”, into its concrete national context. Only this context can confer legitimacy on a Palestinian leadership that does not derive its authority from resisting the occupation in all forms.

Moreover, the currently missing “electoral legitimacy” is no longer sufficient in and of itself to allow Palestinian decisions on war and peace to remain in the hands of a leadership that is the product of elections that were held with the approval of the occupation power and in the framework of agreements signed with it.

The Palestinian presidency has dropped the available option of resistance from the lexicon of its negotiating strategy, let alone the option of war, which is not available. The PA, in coordination with the occupation’s security apparatus, has become “the security proxy for the occupying power, rather than an instrument to end the occupation and establish the state,” as Palestinian analyst Hani Al-Masri wrote on 26 August.

As a result, the occupying power, alone, holds the keys to the decision of war, which it continues to repeat, and to the decision of peace, which it still refuses to take.

It appears that President Abbas is working against the tide of Palestinian public opinion, as voiced in a recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah. According to this poll, only 22 per cent of respondents supported a resumption of negotiations, while 53 per cent said they regarded resistance as “the more effective way” to realise the creation of a Palestinian state.

The results of the PCPSR poll contradict all the charges levelled by the president and Fatah against the resistance and Hamas. Of those polled, 79 per cent believe that the resistance emerged victorious from the recent war, while 86 per cent support the defensive use of rockets.

Respondents gave very low ratings to the performance of the Palestinian president, the PA, the national unity government and the PLO, while the approval rating for Hamas was 88 per cent.

What is the substance of this media campaign against Hamas? It ranges from blaming Hamas for prolonging the war and for the consequent loss of lives and material damage, to adopting the Israeli narrative regarding a Hamas-engineered “coup attempt” against the president in the West Bank and the existence of a “shadow government” in Gaza that prevents the national unity government from functioning.

Then there are the charges of keeping Fatah members under “house arrest”, of “opening fire on civilians”, and of “selling emergency relief on the black market.” On top of these come the accusation that Hamas has violated “the law that defines the colours and dimensions of the flag.”

President Abbas’s instructions to create a “committee to hold a dialogue” with Hamas to discuss the “fate of the national unity government,” as announced by Amin Maqboul, secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, does little to encourage optimism. The national unity government, national reconciliation, the Cairo agreement of 2011, the unified leadership framework that it stipulated, and the reactivation of the PLO, all stand at a crossroads.

This is because of the confrontation stirred by the systematic smear campaign that President Abbas and the Fatah movement are waging against Hamas and the resistance. The campaign has created a media smokescreen behind which the occupation authority can conceal its foot-dragging in carrying out its obligations under the truce agreement, which will probably be echoed in Israeli procrastination on continuing with truce talks due to be held in Cairo.

It should also be stressed that to accuse the resistance and Hamas of prolonging the war is to exonerate the occupation power of responsibility. The Israeli media was quick to capitalise on this, further proof of the extensive coverage the campaign has received.

Indeed, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev virtually reiterated it verbatim when he said that the Egyptian initiative was on the table from 15 July and that while the Arab League and Israel had approved the initiative, Hamas rejected it, only to turn around and agree to it a month later. “If [Hamas] had agreed then to what it agrees to now” it would have been possible “to avoid all that bloodshed,” he said.

The investigatory commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council will most likely cite the president’s charges to strengthen the claims of the occupying power, as these charges would be regarded as “testimony of a witness from the other side.”

Abbas says that while the “final toll” from the most recent war in Gaza was 2,140 dead, “if added to the number of dead in previous wars, and those who died during the period of the Shalit problem, the number would be 10,000 dead and wounded, in addition to the 35,000 homes that were totally or partially destroyed.”

When Abbas says that “it would have been possible” to avert the human and material losses of the recent conflict he is effectively blaming the resistance, not the occupation, for the last war on Gaza and the two wars since 2008 that preceded it.

The spectre of discord once again hovers over Palestinian unity, with Palestinian opinion divided over a programme of negotiations versus a programme of resistance. This is the breach through which Arab and non-Arab “axes” penetrate into the Palestinian interior, deepening rather than mending Palestinian rifts.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com). This article was first published and translated from Arabic by Al-Ahram Weekly on September 11, 2014.

In Birzeit, ‘Trigger Happy’ Israel Vindicates Amnesty’s Report

March 5, 2014

By Nicola Nasser*

In the Palestinian West Bank town of Birzeit early last February 27, the Israeli (IDF) Occupation Forces (IOF) acted determinedly, under the media spotlights, to feed Amnesty International with a show case study to vindicate the report it released only hours earlier, entitled “Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank,” and to refute the Israeli official diplomatic denial of the contents thereof.

Under the command of Col. Yossi Pinto, a Nahal infantry force of the Binyamin Territorial Brigade, joined by the Border Police’s elite Counterterrorism Unit, Yamam, according to Israeli The Jerusalem Post on the same day and “200 Israeli soldiers, dozens of jeeps, two (military) bulldozers and many Shin Bet [internal security] officers” according to Amira Hass of Haaretz on this March 3, including some 28 – more than thirty army patrol armored vehicles according to the count of Arab natives of Birzeit who spoke to this writer, were amassed in this Birzeit University town, raising a hell of explosives and gunfire and disrupting its peaceful countryside early spring morning.

Amira Hass was on the scene. Wondering what was all that military mobilization for, a former mayor of Birzeit told this writer that he heard her asking in repudiation, “Was it (the late al-Qaeda founder Osama) Bin Laden inside?!”

Their mission, according to Israeli military spokespeople, was to arrest a “wanted individual” who, according to the Shin Bet internal security agency, quoted by Hass, had “intended” to carry out an “aggressive operation” against Israeli targets. An Israeli army spokeswoman said the man was “suspected” of “terror activity.” http://www.israelnationalnews.com on the same day quoted “the IDF Spokesman’s Unit” as saying that he was “a wanted man suspected of terror activity.” Gideon Levy in Haaretz on this March 2 quoted “the military correspondents” as repeating what the “IDF claimed” that the man “had the intention to carry out a terror attack in the near future.”

Hass wrote: “In the unofficial Israeli law code, unproved “terrorist intentions” are enough to be punishable by death. In Hebrew, “terror attack” is a magic phrase that exempts the Israelis from wondering why an arrest needs so many troops and fanfare, and has such a murderous end.”

Gideon Levy sarcastically repeating the self-described as “the most moral army in the world” wrote that the Israeli army “is also an army that reads intentions,” but Levy did not add that this army has had it as a rule to act accordingly as well.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said: “After the suspect was called to turn himself in, he barricaded himself inside his house, effectively resisting arrest. Under the premise that he had weapons in his possession, the forces used different means to complete the arrest, including live fire.”

The “suspect” was 24-year old Muatazz Abdul-Rahim Washaha, an unemployed Palestinian native of Birzeit.

Hass questioned the accuracy of this statement. Claiming that the victim had “barricaded himself” in would make people “think he built a fortress and surrounded himself with explosives. This is very inaccurate,” she wrote.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that the “troops forcibly entered the building and found his body.” Hass said that “this is a lie.” “The elite police unit had shot Washaha at point-blank range dozens of times, according to the pieces of brain that covered the room, not to mention his legs, arms and fingers that were nearly severed from his body,” she added. Washaha’s head was split open after being struck by a projectile, a doctor at the Palestinian Ramallah Hospital told AP on the same day.

It was left to Levy and others to specify the details of “live fire.”

Levy reported that “the most moral army in the world fired an (M72 LAW) anti-tank missile at the house in which a wanted young Palestinian was hiding … ran a bulldozer over the top of the house and destroyed it,” using “a drill it calls a ‘pressure cooker’ – a rather disgusting drill it invented for itself.”

When the tactic of “pressure cooker,” which involves shooting at the walls of the house that is surrounded, failed to persuade the suspect to come out and turn himself in, the IOF troops at around 7 AM bulldozed part of the outer wall of the house and fired projectiles into the building. Fire erupted in the house. At 11 AM, they issued an ultimatum, “giving Muatazz two minutes to surrender, without result. As the ultimatum expired, the army fired several artillery shells from close distance. They then stormed the burning house, killing Muatazz,” Jan Walraven reported in the Palestine Monitor on this March 3.

The four – apartment building was bulldozed and shelled out of use and its contents burned and vandalized. Four families suddenly found themselves on the street, waiting for charities.

Washaha did not “resist” his arrest; he simply refused to give himself in. Released from an IFO jail only a few months ago, he knew very well what being imprisoned by the IOF meant. “I will be free here. Leave and do not worry about me. I will stay here and not surrender. I will not return to prison,” he told a Palestinian civil defense worker who rushed in to extinguish the fire caused by the Israeli projectile. Those were his last words, quoted by The Electronic Intifada on last February 28.

“They could have taken him as a prisoner, but they did not want him as a prisoner they wanted to kill him,” his father Mr. Abdul – Rahim said. Similarly, his mother, Mrs. Eitzaaz Washaha, told Anadolu Agency: “Israeli forces could have arrested Washaha, but they were determined to kill him. My son wasn’t armed. He was killed after the house was bombed.”

An Israeli Shin Bet officer, who goes under the name of Alon, gave permission to kill Muatazz because he refused to appear for an interview with him, according to Hass. “This was regarded as a personal affront by Alon,” she wrote. The victim’s brother, Tha’er Washaha, told Haaretz he implored Alon for permission to go inside and convince his brother to come out; Alon refused.

However, despite the officially acknowledged “suspicion,” an official army tweet, quoted by Los Angeles Times on the same day, convicted him as a “terrorist who resisted arrest.”

Pro – Israeli media and Israeli media, the latter being subjected to well – known strict military censorship, echoed this unconfirmed conclusion; for example, http://www.algemeiner.com on the same day headlined its report to conclude that a “Wanted Terrorist (was) Shot Dead by Israel Defense Forces.”

Disinformation was demonstrated by Israel Hayom, reportedly close to prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office; on the same day Hayom reported that “a firefight broke out” between the holed in victim and the besieging army brigade, but the witnesses on the site confirmed the Reuters’ report that “no shots were heard from inside the home before the Israeli forces opened fire,” a fact that is confirmed by the other fact that the raiding Israeli forces did not suffer the slightest casualty, which also refutes the IOF’ claim that the man had an AK-47 rifle, another “story” that “Israel accepted … with a yawn,” according to Levy of Haaretz.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) in a statement condemned Washaha’s killing as an “assassination,” a “crime” and a “deliberate” killing. PA’s spokesman, Ihab Bsaiso, said it was an “example of the violence perpetrated on a daily basis against our population.” In a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN Security Council and the President of the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Ambassador Feda Abdelhady – Nasser said Washaha’s killing indicates Israel’s “pre-meditated intention of killing him.”

Israeli journalist Hass agrees further that his killing was a “cold-blooded assassination”; “The Israeli army did this deliberately,” she wrote. “Israel’s goal” was “to embarrass the Palestinian Authority and undermine its status” among its own people and Israel was “successful” as the “Palestinian Authority officials were absent from Washaha’s funeral” the next day to avoid the angry crowds, estimated at more than five thousand, who were demanding an end to peace negotiations and to PA’s security coordination with Israel.

Gideon Levy had another interpretation for the motives of “The most moral army in the world,” which was the title of his opinion column in Haaretz; “The Israel Defense Forces has also created a heartwarming name for all this: the “Tool of Disruption” – storming a civilian community for the purpose of causing panic and fear, and to disrupt its life,” or “Sometimes these operations are conducted … as a training routine in order to preserve the readiness of the forces and a demonstration of sovereign power” toward the Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation since 1967, he wrote.

Amnesty’s Report Vindicated

Washaha’s extrajudicial execution came on the same day the Amnesty International (AI) released its 87-page report recommending that the U.S., EU and the rest of the international community should suspend all transfers of military aid to Israel because “without pressure from the international community the situation is unlikely to change any time soon,” Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said. “Too much civilian blood has been spilled … (and Israel’s) unlawful killings and unnecessary use of force must stop now,” he added.

The AI reported it had documented the killings of 22 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank in 2013 and in all the cases the Palestinians did not appear to have been posing a direct and immediate threat to life: “The circumstances of all their deaths point to them having been victims of unlawful killings, including — in some cases — possible willful killings.”

“Several victims were shot in the back suggesting that they were targeted as they tried to flee and posed no genuine threat to the lives of members of Israeli forces or others,” the report said. “In several cases, well-armored Israeli forces have resorted to lethal means to crack down on stone-throwing protesters causing needless loss of life” and “there is evidence that some individuals were victims of willful killings, which would amount to war crimes,” it added.

Since the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry succeeded in resuming the Palestinian – Israeli peace talks on last July 29, the IOF killed more than 42 Palestinian civilians; Washaha was among the latest.

Using “excessive force,” “arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters” and displaying “callous disregard” for human life, Israeli soldiers and police officers have been operating with “near total impunity,” in a “harrowing pattern of unlawful killings and unwarranted injuries,” “as a matter of policy,” while the Israeli investigative system is “woefully inadequate,” said Luther.

The AI report accused Israel of “war crimes and other serious violations of international law.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, said that Amnesty was “obsessive” with a “focus on Israel” and accused the London – based rights organization of having “an agenda that has more to do with politics than human rights.” His embassy in London told The Jewish Chronicle that the AI’s report was merely a “stunt” filled with “unverifiable and often contradictory accounts.”

In Birzeit on that sad morning of last February 27, the elite military disproportionate force which the IOF used to liquidate Washaha acted as if it was intentionally determined to undermine the credibility of Israel’s official diplomacy, represented this time by ambassador Taub, and to vindicate the contents of Amnesty’s report which he tried to deny or at least to question.

Ironically, Israeli PM Netanyahu, less than a week later, was in Washington D.C. lecturing a receptive American audience at the annual conference of AIPAC about drawing a “clear line … between life and death, between right and wrong” and about the “moral divide!”

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. nassernicola@ymail.com

Obama’s ‘Big Prize’ to Earn Nobel Peace Prize

November 27, 2013

By Nicola Nasser*

Indeed, US President Barak Obama has gone a long way to earn his Nobel Peace Prize, which was prospectively and in advance awarded in 2009 to the 44th president of the United States while less than eight months in office.

However, Obama’s “big prize” to make him “feel that I deserve” the Nobel Prize as he had said then will be waiting for him until he ends the ongoing Israeli war on the Palestinian people and occupation of their land, at least since 1967.

This Israeli war lies at the heart of both the wars Obama inherited as well as those he has just averted and has been all along the source of regional wars, instability and insecurity as well as the source of the deep-rooted anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

To his credit, President Obama, true to his promise to “end a decade of wars,” wound up the war on Iraq, now coordinating winding down his country’s war on Afghanistan next year and twice this year he has navigated successfully to avert and avoid dragging his country into wars on Syria and Iran.

It doesn’t matter much whether Obama has gone thus far out of principle or under the pressures of the financial crisis in his country and the emerging geopolitical realities internationally and regionally in the Middle East.

Pressures would be more likely an interpretation if one is to judge by his shift from his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call on Syrian rebels not to disarm with the aim of enforcing a regime change in Syria to the US co-sponsoring now the upcoming Geneva – 2 conference on January 22 for a political solution of the Syrian conflict.

But the “out of principle” interpretation seems more likely if one is to judge by the AP wire story about the background of the Iran deal, which revealed that Obama was conducting “secret talks” with Iran for about a year before the election last summer of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, to whose “moderation” a lot of credit was attributed for the success of negotiating the deal.

It is true that Obama’s ongoing “drone war” on Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere, his “leading from behind” in the NATO-led war on Libya, his “warships diplomacy” and “sanctions war” on Syria, Iran and of late on Egypt all vindicate calls for rescinding his Nobel prize, but ending the ongoing Israeli war on the Palestinian people remains his only daring peace move that will tip the balance to his credit for good.

Except for his failure to deliver on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp on the Cuban territory, the Arab – Israeli conflict remains the most critical foreign policy area where his deeds still do not match his words.

Long before his opposition to the US-led war on Iraq in 2003, Obama came of political age in the campus anti-nuclear movement of the 1980s and was elected as an anti-war figure; at a presidential campaign debate in South Carolina in 2007 he spoke about meetings with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, and other nations hostile to his country. He was awarded the Noble Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation” and for his vision and work “for a world without nuclear weapons.”

After his new START treaty with Russia cutting down the two countries’ nuclear arsenals, disarming Syria of its chemical arsenal and restricting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes, disarming Israel of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction remains the litmus test which will determine the credibility of Obama’s endeavor “for a world without nuclear weapons” and will qualify him to “deserve” the Nobel Peace Prize.

After the signing of the four-page “Joint Plan of Action” interim nuclear deal between Iran and the 5-plus-1 partners in Geneva on this November 24, “He can now also say he has avoided a third war,” according to Bruce O. Riedel, a former administration official who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, quoted by The New York times last Monday.

However the “third war” has been raging bloodily and mercilessly for less than three years now in Syria, “led from behind” by his administration and either openly armed, financed and logistically supported by the US regional Qatari, Saudi and Turkish allies or proxies, it doesn’t matter which, or away from media spotlights by the US Israeli strategic ally.

Partnering with Russia to conclude the January 22 Geneva – 2 conference with a successful political solution of the Syrian conflict, by drying up the regional sources of arms and money that fuel the conflict, will be Obama’s “small prize” towards earning his Nobel prize.

But his “big prize” will remain tied to ending the sixty five-year old Israeli war on the Palestinian people.

Israel’s warmongering against Iran, Syria, Lebanese Hezbullah and Palestinian anti-Israeli occupation resistance movements besieged in the Gaza strip stands isolated in the face of a consensus by the world community on pursuing Obama’s pledge that “diplomacy would continue” because, as he said last Sunday, “we cannot close the door on diplomacy, and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.”

“The plan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu … has been to launch a massive military assault on Iran that has no guarantee of success in ending the nuclear program but would almost certainly unleash a region-wide war.” (http://www.philly.com, Nov. 24, 2013)

Netanyahu condemned the Iran deal as an “historic mistake;” he stated that “Israel is not bound by the agreement” and has the right to “defend itself by itself” before sending his cabinet minister Naftali Bennett to Capitol Hill to rally Congress against the White House and the State Department and calling on American Jews to oppose the policies of Obama’s government. Netanyahu leaves no doubt that he is well determined to abort the Iran deal and deprive Obama from earning his Nobel Peace Prize.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. nassernicola@ymail.com

The Killers of Peace

August 14, 2013

By Nicola Nasser*

The Israeli Jewish settlers of the Palestinian territory, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, are dictating unilaterally the demarcation of the borders with any future Palestinian state, thus rendering its creation impossible; holding the Israeli decision-making process hostage, they have become the real killers of peace, who brought the twenty –year old Palestinian – Israeli peace process to its current stalemate.

As early as the summer of 1995, the Iraqi born Israeli – British “new historian” Avi Shlaim wrote in the Journal of Palestine Studies: “The settlers now are the ones who determine Israel’s internal political agenda.”

Their numbers then were in the tens of thousands; now there are three quarters of a million settlers. The Head of the “Samaria Regional Council” of the Israeli illegal settlements in the Israeli – occupied Palestinian West Bank (WB) of River Jordan, Gershon Mesika, on this August 6 boasted there will be one million settlers there “in just three years time,” telling “Arutz Sheva” online that “the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria (i.e. the Palestinian WB) has passed the point of no return.”

Writing in the “National Interest” on September 6, 2012, the President of the U.S./Middle East Project, Henry Siegman, agreed that “Israel’s colonial… settlement project has achieved its intended irreversibility, not only because of its breadth and depth but also because of the political clout of the settlers and their supporters within Israel.”

When Benjamin Netanyahu assumed his second term as prime minister, with the settler Avigdor Lieberman as his foreign minister, the German Süddeutsche Zeitung, quoted by Spiegel on March 17, 2009, wrote: “He and Lieberman are the gravediggers of the Middle East peace process. They want to maintain the occupation and expand the settlements.”

The electoral campaign of Netanyahu for his first term in 1995 was blamed by Israeli media for creating the right environment which led to the assassination of the “father’ of the first Oslo accord for peace with Palestinians in 1993; ever since the “peace process” has been deadlocked.

The incumbent government of Netanyahu’s third premiership is now described as the “settlers’ government” or “a settler –friendly government,” the survival of which is secured by a Knesset led by Speaker Yuli Edelstein, himself an illegal settler of the Neve Daniel colony in the WB, who called recently for the annexation of two thirds of the WB area.

This is a call that was also repeatedly voiced by the pro – settler Jewish Home party, a partner to Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, which holds three key ministries, including the housing ministry, and controls the parliamentary finance committee. Netanyahu declared his backing for the Jewish Home’s plan. Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett was the chairman of the council of the illegal settlements in the WB and Gaza Strip and is still an advocate of imposing Israeli sovereignty unilaterally on “Area C” in the WB. Uzi Landau, of Lieberman’s Yisraeli Beiteinu party, has the tourism portfolio. Likud’s ardent supporter of settlements, Moshe Yaalon, has the ministry of defense. Foreign minister’s deputy, Zeev Elkin, is himself a settler. The education minister, Shai Piron, of Yair Lapid’s so-called “centrist” Yesh Atid party, is a settler rabbi; Lapid himself who is the finance minister supports the “growth” of settlements even during peace talks and rejects any Palestinian sovereignty under any pact in eastern Jerusalem.

Deputy Minister of Defense, Danny Danon of Likud, was quoted by The Jewish Press on August 8 as saying that the “views” of Israel’s chief negotiator, the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose Hatnua party holds six seats only in the settler –dominated Knesset, “do not represent the majority of the current government.” Livni’s role in Netanyahu’s “government of settlers” seems a cosmetic one intended only to circumvent the U.S. pressure for the resumption of the peace talks.

In Israel’s proportional system, the voting settlers and the pro – settler political parties and groups have over the years accumulated enough political clout that is far – in – excess of their numbers to determine the internal balance of power, decide the electoral outcome and dictate their own agenda. They are holding the system hostage. So far they have become the real killers of peace.

On July 28, 2013, Barak Ravid wrote in Haaretz that Netanyahu “is acting so weak … like a prisoner … a hostage” of his pro –settler coalition partners.

During the interval between the first and the second rounds of the recently resumed negotiations, Israel approved a “new” settlement and 1700 settlement units in eastern Jerusalem; the government included 90 settlements in a new list of “national priority development areas” eligible for special benefits; the list included also the three formerly dubbed by the Israeli government as “illegal outposts,” namely Bruchin, Rachelim and Sansana.

U.S. Lip Service

On August 11, 2013, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reacted by reiterating from Bogota, Colombia his country’s “unchanged” position since 1967: The U.S. “views all of the settlements as illegitimate” and had “communicated that policy very clearly to Israel.”

Ironically, “Israel’s settlement project” has evolved “irreversible” nonetheless, mocking the U.S. repeatedly declared illegitimacy thereof as merely a lip service that has been all throughout a thinly veiled cover of the U.S. actual protection of the accelerating expansion ever since of “Israel’s colonial” project.

No surprise then Kerry from Colombia “expected” what Peter Beinart described in the Daily Beast on August 12 as the “Opening of settlement floodgates” just two days ahead of the second round of the U.S. – sponsored Palestinian – Israeli negotiations, which were resumed in Washington D.C. on July 29, 2013.

Worse still, Kerry pragmatically defended the new “opening of settlement floodgates” as an incentive which “underscores the importance of getting to the table … quickly,” ignoring insensitively the Palestinian reaction.

On May 18 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Netanyahu must choose between settlements and peace. Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation organization (PLO), Yasser Abed Rabbo, and the PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said they were considering not to participate in the second round of the talks, scheduled in Jerusalem on August 14. Member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Hanan Ashrawi, condemned Israel’s latest settlement plans as “confidence-destruction measures.” Her co – member, Wasel Abu Yusuf, concluded that the PLO committed a “big mistake” by joining the Kerry – sponsored talks. Spokesman for the Palestinian presidency, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that Israel’s latest plans “aim at obstructing the peace efforts.”

However, the PLO is too weak to translate its words into deeds and challenge kerry’s statement that the issue of settlements should not derail the resumed peace talks.

Israelis without Compass

Americans for Peace Now, in a report titled “Settlements & the Netanyahu Government: A Deliberate Policy of Undermining the Two-State Solution,” said that in “its policies and actions” this government “disclose a clear intention to use settlements to systematically undermine and render impossible a realistic, viable two-state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.”

In a roundtable on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on September 22, 2011, former U.S. President Bill Clinton blamed the “Netanyahu administration” and what he called a “demographic shift in Israel,” which was an indirect reference to the settlement project, for the failure of the peace process.

In “A Message from a Longstanding Zionist to the Israeli People,” Robert K. Lifton, a former president of The American Jewish Congress, on this August 8 urged Israelis that they “must make clear the direction they want their country to pursue,” “separate Israel from the Palestinians,” and “avoid being ensnared in a bi – national state.”

However, Lifton’s appeal sounds like a cry in the settlers’ wilderness. Israelis have yet to liberate themselves from being hostage to these killers of peace. Until then, Israelis will continue to navigate without compass, rejecting the one – state solution, the two – state solution, the bi – national state solution and every other proposed solution for peace, except their peace – killing colonial settlement project, which Henry Siegman, referred to by The Forward on October 5, 2012 as a “Jewish elder statesman,” believes is “suicidal.”

Most likely, the settlers are drawing on the fact that Israel itself is the product of a “colonial settlement project,” which so far has proved successful; they are expectedly betting also on the “unbreakable” support of the other successful colonial settlement project that has become the United States of America.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. nassernicola@ymail.com

Qurei Urges Israel to Acknowledge Palestinian ‘Right of Return’

May 23, 2008

Nicola NasserBy Nicola Nasser

 

May 21, 2008 – Agreeing to the Israeli neo-historian Ilan Pappé’s interpretation of the term “Nakba,” Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmad Qurei said that peace and peace negotiations with Israel “could not hang on forever,” warned that “the horrible alternative option could not but be the total collapse of the dreams of coexistence and the resumption of the bloody struggle,” urged Israel to reach a solution for the Palestinian refugee problem “based on the principle of acknowledging the Right of Return, and compensation for the sufferings of the Palestinian people,” and to adopt a “culture of confession” and “apologize” for what happened, and “to uphold the responsibility for all that happened” in 1948 as “a necessary first step that would pave the way to achieve a just and lasting peace, which makes room for all on the land.”

 

Qurei’s remarks came in an article in Arabic published be the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Al-Quds daily to commemorate the Palestinian Nakba “catastrophe” of 1948, when Israel was created.

 

Following is the full text of Qurei’s article:

 

On the Anniversary of the Nakba*

 

By Ahmad Qurei**

Translated into English by Nicola Nasser

 

Six decades have passed and the painful memory of the great historic transformational event, termed “the Nakba,” recurs anew.

 

We recall now, with deep sadness and agony, the sad memory of that major catastrophe, which befell the Palestinian people in 1948, committed by a premeditated Zionist scheme, with unlimited support and flagrant collusion by the colonialist powers which were in hegemony over the world at the time.

 

Despite the passing of time, oblivion remains unable to accumulate over the grave historic event and incapable to dump that tragedy, the trails and repercussions of which are still haunting the Palestinian people to this very moment, without history stopping for a while to renew the bleeding wound in the body of this question, since then until now.

 

Less than two decades later, what remained of Palestine fell in a blitz war that erupted in June 1967; what remained of the land, in addition to what was seized in 1948, was subjected to an oppressive long-term occupation, which is still leaning heavily on every particle thereof after four decades or more, practicing all the measures that violate international law and legitimacy, which the occupation insists on trivially ignoring, to arrogantly continue its aggressive measures, including annexation and usurpation of land, annexation, confiscation and Judaization of the Holy City, a horrible cancer-like settlement, while persisting on the unjust siege it imposes on Palestinian cities and villages, and constructing the Apartheid wall, with what catastrophes it entailed on the Palestinian ground, citizens, economy, unity of society, the educational process, and other details of the various dimensions of human life, let alone other oppressive practices that touch on the daily life of the Palestinian people under occupation at the roadblocks and crossings as well as inside the terrific Israeli jails and prisons.

 

All of the forgoing is still persisting while the world and its major powers, who dominate global policy, are watching unmoved; what is worse is that those practices persist under the umbrella of the peace process, the principles of which were signed by both parties in 1993, and which we still pursuing to realize and reach the virtual and honest translation of the concept of comprehensive and just peace, which we hope and aspire it would materialize so tranquility could be the rule in the land of peace.

 

On May 15, 1948 Palestine was the victim of an existential dismemberment process almost totally; it disintegrated politically, socially, economically and demographically, its people displaced from their homeland and their unity shuttered between a minority who remained and a majority who were lost in near and remote exiles and dispersed in the Diaspora, creating the major problem of the refugees who were expelled from their homeland, which is one of the major problems witnessed in modern history that still makes the region prone to potential renewed wars and horrible bloody struggles.

 

Vis-à-vis a problem of those dimensions and that degree of gravity, we had had to try the peace gamble; such an option dictates that the party who is armed to teeth has to be convinced that his arsenal will lead only to a larger catastrophe, and that to eradicate the trails of the tragedy of 1948, which led to the transfer of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland, requires finding a satisfactory solution for the refugee problem, a solution based on the principle of acknowledging the Right of Return, and compensation for the sufferings of the Palestinian people resulting from their expulsion from their homeland, displacement from their homes and properties inherited from their fathers and forefathers and from places that are instilled in their memory and dreams.

 

Vis-à-vis the attempts for pushing the Palestine Question into oblivion, the Palestinian memory remains vigilant not to give in to the overwhelming force that endeavors to make it forget.

 

Sixty years on since the Nakba, the various Palestinian generations of all ages are still holding on to their national culture and collective memory, strongly and stubbornly refusing all fictional alternatives for the homeland, and adhering to their legitimate rights to their homeland and land, and to the goals of return and recovery of all their usurped rights on the basis of the resolutions of international legitimacy, in the forefront of which are resolutions 242, 338, 181, 194, and others.

 

The occupation of Palestine by the Zionist military force in 1948 was accompanied by a propaganda and ideological campaign, which immediately embarked on promoting a false narrative, to the effect that the Palestinians voluntarily left their land, out of their free will and without coercion, in response to the request of Arab parties whose armies took part in the 1948 war, so as to enable those armies to fight their battles away from the Arab population density lest they get harmed by the exchange of fire and the battles that could have erupted in the areas of population centers.

 

However this fragile and incredible narrative had in no time collapsed vis-à-vis the facts of history. The wider and most solid refute thereof came from Israeli neo-historians, distinguished by bravery and scientific and objective search for historical truth, and by a great moral commitment, which contributed to the collapse of the foundations of the Zionist narrative from within the Israeli society itself.

 

Those neo-historians have largely drawn on the Israeli documents themselves, which are periodically released from time to time; these documents constitute the raw material to expose the ethnic cleansing plans against the Palestinians inside Palestine and the operations of genocide and arbitrary transfer that were the essence of the colonialist Zionist plan to take over Palestine, and implemented especially after the Partition Resolution passed by the United Nations on November 29, 1947 and continued incessantly during the first months of 1948 until the middle of that year.

 

The foundation of the Zionist idea in its formulation and evolution was based on the confirmation that the realization of the Zionist dream in creating a state for the Jews in Palestine will not be and will not have the chance to be realized on the ground without the Zionist movement first enforce its strategy that was based on uprooting the Palestinian people from their land by all means and methods, which are essentially based on violence and lack the minimum of humanitarian spirit, moral norms and purity of arms.

 

Based on the fact that what happened in Palestine in 1948 was not a voluntary immigration or in response to an Arab request, but a matter that was proposed and planned by the symbols of the Zionist movement since the early thirties of the twentieth century or earlier and approved by the movement’s historical leadership and symbols at the time, who contributed to a specific and systematic plan that had developed over the years to end up with what is known as Plan “D” (Tokhnit Dalet in Hebrew), according to which the Zionist gangs embarked on the massacre strategy and put it into effect in several Palestinian towns and villages.

 

That plan was built on a wide data base and on a plenty of accumulated information on urban and countryside Palestinian communities, all their available potentials, including land, population, families, revolutionary activists, transportation roads, agricultural and animal wealth, and other bare and accurate information. The targets of the plan were built on a basic pillar, namely the practice of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Palestine, with killing as the first tool, as the Zionist leaders of the time raised the slogan, “kill every Arab you meet,” which evolved later into committing and recommitting massacres and genocide operations in the context of a strategic plan in several sporadic places in the cities and villages of Palestine, whose people, even the unarmed and women, children and elderly had not survived the killing or spared terrorization and collective transfer practiced against them, so the Palestinian land would be a monopoly for the Jews in order to establish their state thereon after the evacuation of the indigenous natives thereof.

 

Based on that fact, after a profound reading of the Israeli documents from the Jewish National Fund and the various Jewish military organizations, in the forefront of which is the “Haganah,” their archives, papers and the memoirs of the symbols, political leaders and field commanders of the Zionist movement during the recent decades which preceded the horrible historic events of May 1948, including the killings, destruction, terrorization, rape and mutilation of bodies, alongside a premeditated psychological and information war, the brave Israeli researcher and historian Ilan Pappé concluded the fact that ethnic cleansing was practiced against the Palestinians, constituting a crime against humanity, which entails trial if international norms and standards are to apply thereto and which were applied thereafter in other parts of the world, specially during the last decade of the twentieth century.

 

Consequently Pappé ended up to absolutely refuse the concept and term of “the Nakba” to describe what befell the Palestinian people in 1948. The Nakba is a fluid and unspecific term; it refers to the deed itself, which befell a people, rather than to the perpetrator, and fails to name and specify the perpetrator’s crime and thus acts to absolve from responsibility the side that committed the deed and bypasses the victims of the operations who fell as the result of this deed; i.e. the Nakba is a term that could apply to natural disasters and catastrophes like earthquakes and volcanoes, for which nobody is held responsible except the nature itself or even ultra-natural powers. Ethnic cleansing however is a concept that refers the responsibility for its perpetration to whoever is the decision-maker and those who practiced it premeditatedly in reality and in history.

 

Hence, the concept of the Nakba was accepted by the Israeli official authorities because it implicitly absolves them from their historical responsibility for the military operations they carried out as well as for the massacre strategy they adopted and led to the arbitrary expulsion of Palestinians from their land by force and terrorism to wander aimlessly in the exiles in a tragic journey that is sustained by more wars launched by Israel, which deepened their suffering and contributed to making their problem intricate. The perpetrator in all cases is known and his responsibility for the series of catastrophes is identified and documented since 1948 to this day.

 

We, from our position on this available part of historic Palestine, are embarked on several multi-faceted battles.

 

While we work to reinforce the steadfastness of our people on their land, we strive with all our capabilities to consolidate our national achievement, i.e. the creation of the Palestinian National Authority on the land of Palestine, and struggle to push forward the project of transforming it into an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital. At the same time, we will continue fighting our political battle in defense of our legitimate rights as represented in preserving the Arab character of Jerusalem, stopping the settlements and the Apartheid Wall, extracting the right of refugees to return to their homeland, and sweeping away the occupation from the land of Palestine.

 

We persist now, energetically, on fighting a fierce battle of peace with the purpose of bypassing the Israeli spirit of violence and the force infatuated by its arms, a spirit of violence that is promoted by those who want to evade the prerequisites of peace.

 

Peace could not hang on forever and it could not anymore accept the idea of the Israeli evasion and prevarication. There is no doubt that finishing off that spirit of violence cannot be done without adhering to peace itself as the principle and the acceptance by each side of the other. Similarly negotiations cannot go on forever vis-à-vis a dead end.

 

The horrible alternative option could not but be the total collapse of the dreams of coexistence and the resumption of the bloody struggle, which kills both the human spirit as well as the spirit of civilization and brings back the ideology and practice of ethnic cleansing to be the eternal shame of its perpetrators at all times.

 

Agreement on the historic narrative of what happened in 1948, the adoption of the culture of confession by those who committed the massacres, to apologize for what happened, and to uphold the responsibility for all that happened seems a necessary first step that would pave the way to achieve a just and lasting peace, which makes room for all on the land.

 

* This article was first published in Arabic by the Jerusalem-based Palestinian daily, Al-Quds, on May 15, 2008.

 

** Ahmad Qurei is the chief Palestinian negotiator, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and a member of the Central Committee of Fatah.