Month: May 2017

Don’t Fall For Character Assassination – Marwan Barghouti is a Man of Peace

Read the article by Palestine’s most prominent woman politician Dr Hanan Ashrawi in Newsweek Thursday April 27th 2017:

Hanan Ashrawi

“When 1,500 Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike to struggle for their rights, the jailer will use every diversionary tactic in the book to ensure that nobody asks the only relevant question: are their demands just and justified? Let me be the voice of the hunger strikers now, since many of them are in solitary confinement as punishment for having protested their detention conditions peacefully.”

Read more

Read more about the hunger strike:

  1. Don’t Fall For Israel’s Character Assassination—Marwan Barghouti Is A Man Of Peace, By Hanan Ashrawi  April 27, 2017 http://www.newsweek.com/marwan-barghouti-man-peace-israel-apartheid-591021
  2. Jack Khoury, Ha’aretz, April 19, 2017. “Palestinian Hunger-striking Prisoners’ Lawyers Call Boycott of All Israeli Court Sessions.” Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-1.784148
  3. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, April 17, 2017. “Demands of the Strikers.” available at: http://samidoun.net/2017/04/1500-palestinian-prisoners-launch-largest-collective-hunger-strike-in-years-take-action-in-support/#demands
  4. Ma’an News, April 19, 2017. “Palestinian women join hunger strike, lawyers declare boycott of Israeli courts.” Available at: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776498
  5. Marwan Barghouthi, New York Times, April 16, 2017. “Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel’s Prisons.” Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/16/opinion/palestinian-hunger-strike-prisoners-call-for-justice.html
  6. Ma’an News, April 19, 2017. “Activist group cries foul over Israeli outrage at Marwan Barghouthi op-ed.” Available at: https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=776504
  7. Chaim Levinson, Ha’aretz, November 29, 2011. “Nearly 100% of All Military Court Cases in West Bank End in Conviction, Haaretz Learns.” Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/nearly-100-of-all-military-court-cases-in-west-bank-end-in-conviction-haaretz-learns-1.398369. Some sources cite the US State Department figure of an approximately 90 percent conviction rate. See: https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2015/nea/252927.htm In either case, the conviction rate reflects the lack of a fair trial process for Palestinians under occupation. Lisa Hajjar, “Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza.” University of California Press, 2005, p. 59.
  8. Defence for Children International – Palestine. “Issues – Military Detention.” Available at: http://www.dci-palestine.org/issues_military_detention
  9. United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Concluding observations on the second to fourth periodic reports of Israel, adopted by the Committee at its sixty-third session (27 May – 14 June 2013).” Available at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC-C-ISR-CO-2-4.pdf
  10. Defense for Children International – Palestine, No Way to Treat a Child: Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Detention System, 2 (2016), http://bit.ly/29W41mB.
  11.  Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, 2012. “Eyes on Israeli Military Court: A collection of impressions.” Available at:
  12. http://www.addameer.org/sites/default/files/publications/eyes_on_israeli_military_court-_a_collection_of_impressions.pdf
  13. International Court of Justice. 9 July 2004. “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.
  14. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), art. 14, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/ccpr.pdf; UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 32, Article 14: Right to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial, ¶ 22, UN Doc. CCPR/C/GC/32 (Aug. 23, 2007), http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=CCPR/C/GC/32.
  15. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, “Administrative Detention. December 2015. Available at: http://www.addameer.org/israeli_military_judicial_system/administrative_detention
  16. UN News Centre, “Solitary confinement should be banned in most cases, UN expert says,” October 18, 2011. Available at: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40097#.WPjiBtKGNPY
  17. Defense for Children International – Palestine, Palestinian children held in solitary confinement for longer periods, April 17, 2017. http://www.dci-palestine.org/palestinian_children_held_in_solitary_confinement_for_longer_periods
  18. Defense for Children International – Palestine, Palestinian children held in solitary confinement for longer periods, April 17, 2017. http://www.dci-palestine.org/palestinian_children_held_in_solitary_confinement_for_longer_periods
  19. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, “Family Visits.” http://www.addameer.org/publications/families-family-visits-0
  20. Amnesty International, “Israel must end ‘unlawful and cruel’ practices towards Palestinian prisoners.” April 13, 2017. Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2017/04/israel-must-end-unlawful-and-cruel-policies-towards-palestinian-prisoners/

 

 

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Israel tries to steal Bethlehem’s tourist industry

Friday May 5th 2017

Israel is making a blatant attempt to steal Bethlehem’s tourist industry by forcing tour groups to sign a form promising not to book hotels in the occupied West Bank.

Travel agents were informed in a letter from the Interior Ministry that from May 15 their groups will not be allowed to stay in Bethlehem hotels. There has now been some delay, but the change is still going ahead.

The letter includes a “clarification” stating that the groups are permitted to visit Bethlehem and are only being blocked from spending the night there.

An estimated 1 million tourist nights are spent in Bethlehem every year, including overnights by independent travelers. Most are three-star hotels that charge about $22 to $25 per person a night, which is 25% to 50% of what a three-star hotel in Jerusalem costs.

The form relates primarily to groups of Christian tourists that visit Israel who also spend nights in Bethlehem, and not individual tourists, who are not required to receive entry permits in advance.

Trump the unpredictable promises Abbas: “We will get this done”

Thursday May 4th 2017

To say it sounded surreal would be an understatement.  Trump was not just meeting the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in the White House, but was sounding positively effusive.

“I will do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement, to mediate, to arbitrate, anything they’d like to do,” he said. “I would love to be a mediator or an arbitrator or a facilitator and we will get this done.”

He went on: “Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Let’s see if we can prove them wrong.”

Abbas, seasoned diplomat that he is, may have thought to himself: “I can’t believe this will  happen, but we’d better do everything we can to encourage him just in case it does.  You never know.”

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “the Palestinians have put Trump’s ego in their crosshairs, and they are emptying their entire arsenal of fawning phrases to hit their target. Everyone is in on the act, from Abbas all the way to Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who also paid tribute on Wednesday to Trump the almighty.”

Trump has already laid claim to being the most unpredictable president ever, so it is no surprise that he is blowing hot and cold on the Israel-Palestine issue. He could switch back tomorrow to being the most pro-Israeli president of all time.

He may just be unrealistic about what he could persuade the Palestinians to accept. But what is clear is that he wants to try. According to Haaretz again, “in all the conversations that Netanyahu and Abbas’ advisers have had these past weeks with senior White House officials they were told the same thing – that the issue is a top priority for the president.”

Day of solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers

Twelve things you should know about the strike

Over 1,100 prisoners have been on hunger strike for better prison conditions since April 17th. Marwan Barghouthi’s health is already in serious decline. He is taking only water and salt and refusing medical treatment.

Prisoners are demanding regular visits and an end to deliberate medical negligence, solitary confinement, administrative detention, and a long list of other demands.
hunger strike protest
Israeli prisons have punished hungers strikers by suspending family visits, preventing lawyers from visiting and putting leaders of the strike in solitary confinement.

Barghouthi has been threatened with prosecution for publishing an article in the New York Times setting out the prisoners’ demands. Yisrael Katz, Israel’s Minister for Intelligence, has called for his execution on Twitter.

In the article Barghouthi describes hunger striking as, “the most peaceful form of resistance available – it inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells”.

Some members of Israel’s government have also suggested shutting down The New York Times bureau in Jerusalem as a punishment for publishing his article.

According to the human rights group Addameer, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned or detained by Israel — equivalent to about 40 percent of the Palestinian territory’s male population.

Today, about 6,500 are still imprisoned, among them some who have the dismal distinction of holding world records for the longest periods in detention of political prisoners – over 30 years.

According to the US State Department, these prisoners face harsher conditions than Israeli criminals, including increased use of administrative detention, restricted family visits, ineligibility for parole and solitary confinement.

Israel labels the prisoners as “terrorists” but their former prime minister Menachem Begin is regarded as a hero for his role commanding the militant Irgun movement which carried out the 1949 bombing of the King David Hotel that left 91 dead.

The Israeli court service boasted in its annual report that the conviction rate for Palestinian suspects charged in its military courts in the West Bank is 99.74 per cent – without explaining that suspects stay longer in jail if they plead not guilty than if they plead guilty.

The UK media has met the strike with an almost total news blackout. Even the Guardian has not reported on the strike since the day it started – April 17th.

On May 6th as the strikers entered the 19th day of the strike a day of solidarity was be marked by vigils and demonstrations in 20 cities across the UK, including the one pictured next to the Israeli Embassy in Kensington, London.