Nikki Haley’s swansong at the UN was an embarrassment

First published by the Middle East Monitor on 10/12/2018

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]

The 6 December was the first anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that he would move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. The announcement was cheered by Israel and its supporters for whom international laws and conventions are at best meaningless and at worst an irritant. Trump suggested that this move would help bring peace to the Holy Land. How wrong he was. Anyone but a diehard Zionist would have told him that he was deluded to think this, but nobody in his administration would have done so, because those tasked with developing a peace deal fall into this category.

One of these cheerleaders for Apartheid Israel is Nimrata Randhawa, better known to the world as Nikki Haley, the US Representative to the United Nations. In the UN Security Council, she can wield the US veto to protect Israel but she is unable to do that in the General Assembly, where no state has a veto. Her swansong in the chamber was an embarrassment for her and her country.

Haley left what was her final General Assembly with her pro-Israel tail firmly between her legs. Her resolution to condemn Hamas was voted down, while a resolution reiterating the call for a comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution, which she opposed, passed overwhelmingly. It is particularly galling that Haley wanted to use the UN to condemn Palestinians while defending Israel and its breaches of hundreds of resolutions passed by the very organisation she wanted to use to sanction the people of Palestine who are in breach of none.

The US envoy’s period in office has been characterised by her complete dismissal of Palestinian rights and unwavering support for Israel to ensure that it never faces accountability for its crimes. Her support for Israel since she took on the role has been astonishing. Early on in her appointment she made the defence of the Zionist state at the UN her primary goal, insisting that, “The days of Israel-bashing at the United Nations are over.” She added that the passing of so-called anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council, referring to the anti-settlement resolution 2334, “would never happen again.”

Haley even blocked the appointment of former PA prime minster Salam Fayyad as UN Envoy to Libya. “For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” she claimed.

Following Israel’s murder of over 60 Palestinians protesting peacefully on one day at the height of the Great March of Return demonstrations in the besieged Gaza Strip, Haley blocked a call for an international investigation into Israeli tactics in dealing with the peaceful protests. Instead, she blamed Iran and terrorist proxies for causing the violence. Haley went on to praise the Israeli forces’ performance throughout the protests: “I ask my colleagues here in the Security Council, who among us would accept this type of activity on your border? No one would. No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has. In fact, the records of several countries here today suggest they would be much less restrained.” She did not refer to the right that the Palestinian refugees marching to the nominal border fence have to return to their homes inside what is now called Israel. Resolution 194 regarding the right of return is yet another of the UN resolutions which Israel has failed to implement, even though its membership of the UN itself was conditional on doing so.

Palestinians will not forget her action on the day when 21-year-old volunteer medic Razan Al-Najjar was killed by an Israeli sniper’s bullet, possibly sourced from the US. Ambassador Haley fought to scupper a resolution in the Security Council calling for protection for the Palestinians.

One of Haley’s most embarrassing moments came when she tried to defend the US President’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. A resolution calling for the withdrawal of such recognition was backed by every council member except the US, which then used its veto to block it.

The resolution demanded that all countries comply with pre-existing UN Security Council resolutions on Jerusalem, dating back to 1967, including requirements that the city’s final status be decided in direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Haley denounced the resolution as “an insult” and insisted that this action would not be forgotten.

“The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy,” she blustered. “It’s scandalous to say we are putting back peace efforts. The fact that this veto is being done in defence of American sovereignty and in defence of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the security council.” Haley walked out of the chamber as the representative for Palestine began to speak.

A picture taken on October 18, 2018 shows the US Consulate in Jerusalem on October 2018 [THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)

In October, she announced her resignation as America’s UN envoy but her defence of Israel ran through to the last minute of her period in office, which concluded with the General Assembly on 6 December.

The outcome of the vote on the two resolutions tabled at the GA last week was important to Palestinians and supporters of a just resolution to the conflict. Haley’s anti-Palestinian resolution called for condemnation of Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk”, and for its use of resources in Gaza to construct military infrastructure, “including tunnels to infiltrate Israel and equipment to launch rockets into civilian areas.” The US-drafted text did not make any reference to Israel’s killing of nearly 300 peaceful protesters since 30 March or the botched covert Israeli operation inside Gaza that led to the recent flare up. The result of the vote was 87 in favour, 58 against, with 32 abstentions.

While this resolution gained a simple majority, including support from EU countries, it did not pass the two-thirds majority that the GA agreed would be necessary for it to pass. While Palestinians and their supporters were relieved and pleased, a closer examination shows worrying signs of a possible shift in support for Palestinian rights, including the legitimate right to resist a 51-year long illegal occupation and a 12-year siege on Gaza.

The Palestinians, though, can take comfort from the passing of the second resolution. The General Assembly called for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine in favour of the two-state solution. Not only did Israel vote against the Irish and Bolivian resolution as expected, but the US did as well, giving the clearest possible indication that it no longer supports a two-state solution. Australia also voted against a two-state solution, but none of the five countries opposed to the second resolution offered any alternative.

This General Assembly was likely to be Haley’s last public appearance as US Envoy. She has undoubtedly changed the role to one that takes its lead from both the US and Israeli administrations such that America’s Security Council veto is also openly Israel’s to use. This is a dangerous development, which together with the increasing support in the UN for condemnation of what Palestinians and international law regard as legitimate resistance is extremely detrimental to international law and order. The situation requires an urgent strategy to counter it.

Nikki Haley will not be missed by either Palestinians or their supporters. Good riddance, we say, to an apologist for Israel who has been the face at the UN of a completely biased, anti-Palestinian US administration. The Palestinians should be under no illusion that the next holder of the position, and those developing the “ultimate deal”, will be working to liquidate the Palestinian cause. However, those working against Palestinian rights should also know that they have picked on a people who have demonstrated over decades that they will not give up on their rights, whatever the challenges.

مقابلة: التصور الامريكي لعملية السلام هو التصور الإسرائيلي

مداخلتي في برنامج وراء الحدث على قناة الغد بتاريخ ٦/١٢/٢٠١٨

While Arab states normalise relations with Israel, British voters lobby MPs for Palestine

First published by the Middle East Monitor on 3/12/2018

November was an extraordinary month for normalisation between Arab states and Israel. You would think that Israel had settled its disputes with its neighbours — perhaps accepting and implementing the Arab peace initiative, for example, — and that a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital was close to reality. In fact, though, Israel has challenged the world to call out its Apartheid status following the passing of the Nation State Law; continues to build illegal colonies on Palestinian land; imprisons thousands of Palestinians; demolishes Palestinian-owned homes and other buildings; and kills peaceful protesters at the nominal border with the Gaza Strip on a weekly basis.

The Sultanate of Oman hosted an official state visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife. It then gave a conference platform to Israeli transport minister Yisrael Katz to outline his state’s vision for a railway linking Haifa with the Gulf. Israeli sports teams competed in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, while Bahrain indicated its desire to establish diplomatic channels with Israel. To cap it all, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was given support for his position from Netanyahu. This is the same Saudi Arabia that recently banned Palestinians holding valid travel documents from visiting Makkah and Madinah for pilgrimage, presumably on the orders of the Custodian of the Holy Mosques, King Salman. Who would have thought it possible?

The Palestinians know of and rely on the long standing support of the Arab people but it has now become clear that support from a substantial number of their governments is tokenistic. In fact, the Arab states’ role has become more like cheerleaders for Donald Trump’s still to be announced “deal of the century”, and to be ready to put a few million dollars into the kitty to cajole them into accepting the ultimate surrender deal.

READ: Normalisation and a ‘regional solution’ are back on the agenda 

The Arab people — including Palestinians — are oppressed by their own governments, which deny them their civil and political rights. They have little or no influence on the decisions made in their names by their unelected governments and are therefore hardly able to influence the decisions which have an impact on the Palestinian cause.

While wanting to see the Arabs return to their unwavering support for the cause, the Palestinians look increasingly elsewhere, particularly where they can influence government decisions, even if the effect is not immediately obvious. A good example of this is in Britain, where demonstrations in support of the Palestinians in Gaza have been held since the start of the Great March of Return protests in the territory since 31 March. Furthermore, many British voters lobby their MPs and government on behalf of the people of Palestine.

The annual pro-Palestine lobby of parliament in Westminster takes place on or near the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, 29 November. The UN introduced this in 1977 to coincide with the passing of UN resolution 181, the Partition Plan, in 1947.

This year’s lobby was again organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The objective was for ordinary British people to meet their MPs and discuss the Palestinian issue with a particular focus. This year the two issues that constituents were asked to raise with their MPs were related to Palestinian child prisoners and an end to the arms trade with Israel. An Early Day Motion (EDM) 563 on military detention of Palestinian children, is the fourth most signed EDM in this parliamentary session. EDM 1305, meanwhile, calls for “a suspension of arms sales to Israel”.

Just under 3,000 members of the British public participated in the lobby last week. They contacted 600 out of the 650 MPs to express concern about child prisoners and the arms trade. Other MPs whose constituents were not able to travel to Westminster attended various briefings arranged by the PSC both to show their support and to learn more. Most of the parties with MPs were represented at these events.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) on an official diplomatic visit to Oman where he met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said on 25 October 2018 [PM of Israel/Twitter]

At a rally held after the lobby, many MPs spoke in support of the Palestinian cause, highlighting the need for actions more than words. It was noticeable that those who had visited Palestine and Israel to see the situation for themselves were the most outspoken.

The new Palestinian Ambassador to the UK, Dr Husam Zomlot, expressed appreciation of the Palestinian people to the “heroes” involved in the lobby. He stressed the importance of such efforts, especially the timing, “because of the campaign by the extreme right wing groups who are adamant to be anti-internationalist, anti-liberal, anti-democratic values, anti-solidarity and anti-openness.” In particular, the Ambassador commended the pro-Palestine activists for focussing on the “upholding of international law.” While noting that the issues of Palestinian children and the arms trade with Israel are important, he also highlighted Israel’s illegal settlement building and the position of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees. He referred to the importance of enforcing the law in Britain under which, he argued, “importing settlement produce is illegal.”

Zomlot called for the British government to recognise the state of Palestine and claimed that “no act will be more relevant, would be more effective in bringing peace and justice.” He pointed out that the Palestinians do not understand the reluctance to offer such recognition. “We do not understand what is taking the government so long. We do not understand why, given that the British people expressed their will through their elected parliamentarians four years ago, recognition remains unimplemented.” He then reminded the audience of Britain’s historic responsibility and the motion for recognition tabled by Britain’s first MP with Palestinian heritage, the Liberal Democrat Layla Moran.

The Palestinian Ambassador spoke after Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry insisted that a future Labour Government will “immediately recognise the state of Palestine, and will urge our international friends to follow suit, not in due course, not when the time is right or whatever formula this current Tory Government comes up with.” She also committed to Britain hosting an emergency international conference to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people and all of those displaced from their homes or forced into refugee camps abroad as a result of Israeli actions. Most importantly, perhaps, she called for the shortfall caused by Trump’s callous move to cut funding for UNRWA to be filled.

READ: Students from 30 UK universities protest against investment in Israel occupation 

Thornberry also emphasised that Britain must use its place as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to “demand action when Israel breaks international law.” She stated that it was time to expose the hypocrisy of the US and others “who demand actions and independent investigations when other countries break those laws but then turn a blind eye when it comes to Israel. It is not good enough. We must be even handed and it is about time we started being a little braver and a little bolder when it comes to peace in the Middle East.”

The Shadow Foreign Secretary stated that a Labour government “will be prepared to say out loud that it shames the United Nations and it shames the Security Council that for decades Israel has been able to ignore with impunity all the resolutions that the UN has passed and demand effective actions to enforce them.” Since the US has effectively shut itself out from being a broker for peace, Thornberry said that Britain and other countries should step in to revive talks between the parties based on clear principles and a clear timeline to deliver a two-state solution.

Protest in Tunisia against the normalisation of Israel [File photo]

One long-term supporter of Palestinian rights, Andrew Slaughter MP, emphasised the importance of Thornberry’s participation in the rally, which may not have been possible just a few short years ago. He called for a ban on settlement goods, but not a boycott of settlements per se.

The final speaker at the rally thought that this was inadequate. Lubnah Shomali, of BADIL — the Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights — contended that it was not enough to speak in solidarity, to recognise Palestine and to ban settlement products. She went further and argued that, since Israel does not distinguish between Israeli and settlement products, neither should we; in fact, we should be boycotting all Israeli products. She also argued for sanctions on Israel as other states are obligated to hold it to account for its breaches of international laws and conventions.

Shomali will take back to Palestine the tremendous support for Palestinian rights that she witnessed among British citizens, who put pressure on their elected representatives not only at the parliamentary lobby but also throughout the year. It is sad to say that she would not be able to take back the same sort of experience after a visit to any of the Arab states falling over themselves to normalise relations with Israel. The people there may want to show solidarity with the Palestinians and put pressure on their governments to act in support of Palestine, but they live under political systems that do not have any representative democratic institutions. The will of the people in such countries is, therefore, ineffectual at the moment.

بينما تمارس الدول العربية التطبيع مع إسرائيل.. الناخبون البريطانيين يضغطون على أعضاء البرلمان من أجل فلسطين

Translated by Wattan News Agency from Middle East Monitor on 3/12/2018

ترجمة خاصة- وطن– كتب: كامل حواش

كان شهر تشرين الثاني شهراً يعكس مسألة التطبيع بين الدول العربية وإسرائيل بصورة جليّة، وقد يظن البعض أن إسرائيل قد حسمت نزاعاتها مع جيرانها، مثل قبولها بمبادرة السلام العربية وتنفيذها، أو أن دولة فلسطينية عاصمتها القدس الشرقية أصبحت قريبة من الواقع.

وعلى الرغم من هذا كله، تحدت إسرائيل العالم، بعد دعوتها بالتمييز العنصري، وذلك في أعقاب إقرار قانون دولة الأمة اليهودية واستمرت في بناء المستعمرات غير القانونية على الأرض الفلسطينية، وسجن الآلاف من الفلسطينيين وهدم المنازل المملوكة للفلسطينيين والمباني الأخرى، وقتل المتظاهرين السلميين على الحدود مع قطاع غزة بشكل أسبوعي.

استضافت سلطنة عمان زيارة رسمية قام بها رئيس وزراء الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو وزوجته. وخلال هذه الزيارة، تم إعطاء منصة المؤتمر لوزير النقل الإسرائيلي يسرائيل كاتس لتوضيح رؤية دولته لسكة الحديد التي ستربط حيفا بالخليج. كما تنافست الفرق الرياضية الإسرائيلية في الإمارات العربية المتحدة وقطر، بينما أبدت البحرين رغبتها في إقامة قنوات دبلوماسية مع إسرائيل.

وبعد هذا كله، تم منح ولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان الدعم لسلطته وموقعه من قبل نتنياهو. هذه هي المملكة العربية السعودية نفسها التي منعت مؤخراً الفلسطينيين الذين يحملون وثائق سفر قانونية من زيارة مكة المكرمة والمدينة المنورة للحج، والتي جاءت بناء على أوامر من خادم الحرمين الشريفين، الملك سلمان. من كان يظن أن هذا سيحصل يوما ما؟

يدرك الفلسطينيون حقيقة اعتمادهم على الدعم طويل الأمد للشعب العربي، لكن أصبح الآن من الواضح أن الدعم المقدم من عدد كبير من حكوماتهم هو دعم رمزي. في الواقع، أصبح دور الدول العربية أشبه بمشجعين لإعلان دونالد ترامب والذي لم يتم الإعلان عنه بعد باسم “صفقة القرن” ، وسيتم تقديم بضعة ملايين من الدولارات لإقناعهم بقبول صفقة الاستسلام النهائي هذه.

يتعرض الشعب العربي، بما في ذلك الفلسطينيين، للاضطهاد من قبل حكوماتهم مما يحرمهم من حقوقهم المدنية والسياسية. فالشعوب العربية ليس لديها أي تأثير يذكر على القرارات التي تتخذها حكوماتهم الغير المنتخبة أصلا من قبلهم، وبالتالي فهي غير قادرة على التأثير على القرارات التي تختص بالقضية الفلسطينية.

وفي الوقت الذي يرغب فيه العرب في استرجاع دعمهم الثابت للقضية، فإن الفلسطينيين ينظرون إلى مكان آخر بشكل مستمر، بحيث يمكنهم التأثير على قرارات الحكومة، حتى لو لم يكن التأثير واضحاً وبشكل مباشر. وخير مثال على ذلك هو في بريطانيا، حيث تُعقد مظاهرات مساندة للفلسطينيين في غزة منذ بدء احتجاجات مسيرات العودة العظيمة في القطاع منذ 31 اَذار. علاوة على ذلك، فإن العديد من الناخبين البريطانيين يضغطون على نوابهم وحكوماتهم نيابة عن الشعب الفلسطيني.

يتم اجراء لقاء البرلمان السنوي المؤيد لفلسطين في منطقة ويستمنستر في اليوم الدولي للتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني أو بالقرب منه في تاريخ 29 تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر. وقد عرفت عنه الأمم المتحدة في عام 1977 ليتزامن عقده مع صدور قرار الأمم المتحدة 181 حول خطة التقسيم  في عام 1947.

تم تنظيم البرلمان هذا العام مرة أخرى من قبل حملة التضامن مع فلسطين. وكان الهدف هو أن يجتمع المواطنون البريطانيون مع نوابهم ويناقشون القضية الفلسطينية باهتمام خاص. وفي هذا العام، كان الموضوعان اللذان طُلب من النواب مناقشتهما يتعلقان بالسجناء الفلسطينيين الأطفال ووضع حد لتجارة الأسلحة مع إسرائيل. وتعتبر حركة “” (EDM) 563 الخاصة بالاحتجاز العسكري للأطفال الفلسطينيين هي رابع حركة من آليات التنظيم الإداري الأكثر توقيعاً في هذه الدورة البرلمانية. في حين تدعو حركة  EDM 1305 إلى “تعليق مبيعات الأسلحة لإسرائيل”.

وقد شارك أقل من 3000 عضو من الجمهور البريطاني في اللقاء الأسبوع الماضي. وقد تواصلوا مع  600 نائب من أصل 650 للتعبير عن القلق بشأن السجناء الأطفال وتجارة الأسلحة. وقد حضر أعضاء برلمانيون آخرون لم يتمكن ناخبوهم من السفر إلى  منطقة وستمنستر اجتماعات إعلامية مختلفة أعدتها المجتمعات الداعمة للفلسطينيين لإظهار دعمهم ومعرفة المزيد عن القضية الفلسطينية. كما أن معظم الأعضاء البرلمانيون كانوا ممثلين في هذه الأحداث.

وفي مسيرة خرجت بعد اللقاء، تحدث العديد من النواب دعماً للقضية الفلسطينية، مسلطين الضوء على الحاجة لاتخاذ إجراءات أكثر من مجرد الكلمات. وكان من الملاحظ أن أولئك الذين زاروا فلسطين وإسرائيل بأنفسهم الأكثر صراحة في الحديث.

كما أعرب السفير الفلسطيني الجديد في المملكة المتحدة الدكتور حسام زملط عن تقديره للشعب الفلسطيني ووصفهم بـ “الأبطال” المشاركين في هذا اللقاء. وشدد على أهمية هذه الجهود، وخاصة التوقيت “بسبب حملة الجماعات اليمينية المتطرفة التي تصر على أن تكون مناهضة للأدوار الدولية ومناهضة الليبرالية  والديمقراطية والتضامن ومعارضة للانفتاح”. وعلى وجه الخصوص، أثنى السفير على النشطاء المؤيدين لفلسطين لتركيزهم على “دعم القانون الدولي”. وبينما أشار إلى أن قضايا الأطفال الفلسطينيين وتجارة الأسلحة مع إسرائيل مهمة جداً، وقد سلط الضوء أيضاً على بناء المستوطنات غير الشرعية في إسرائيل وموقف وكالة غوث وتشغيل اللاجئين الفلسطينيين (الأونروا). وأشار إلى أهمية تطبيق القانون في بريطانيا، حيث اعتبر أن: “استيراد منتجات المستوطنات عمل غير قانوني”.

وقد طالب زملط الحكومة البريطانية بالاعتراف بدولة فلسطين وأكد على أنه “لا يوجد هناك خطوة مناسبة أكثر من إحلال السلام والعدالة”. وأشار إلى أن الفلسطينيين لا يفهمون الإحجام عن تقديم مثل هذا الاعتراف. “نحن لا نفهم ما الذي يشغل الحكومة لفترة طويلة عن القضية. فعلى الرغم من أن الشعب البريطاني عبّر عن إرادته من خلال البرلمانيين المنتخبين قبل أربع سنوات، إلا أن الاعتراف يبقى بلا تنفيذ “. ثم ذكّر الحضور بمسؤولية بريطانيا التاريخية والاعتراف الذي طرح على جدول اعمال أول فلسطينية في البرلمان البريطاني ، ليلى موران، التي تنتمي لليبرالية والديمقراطية.

وتحدث السفير الفلسطيني بعد أن أصرار وزير الخارجية في حكومة الظل “إميلي ثورنبيري” على أن “حكومة عمالية مستقبلية” ستعترف على الفور بدولة فلسطين، وستحث أصدقاءنا الدوليين على أن يحذوا حذوها. كما التزمت بريطانيا باستضافة مؤتمر دولي طارئ لمعالجة الاحتياجات الإنسانية للشعب الفلسطيني وجميع النازحين من ديارهم أو إجبارهم على دخول مخيمات اللاجئين في الخارج نتيجة للإجراءات الإسرائيلية. والأهم من ذلك، ربما، أنها الإشارة إلى النقص الناجم عن خطوة ترامب التعسفية لخفض التمويل اللازم للأونروا.

كما شدد ثورنبيري على أن بريطانيا عليها أن تستخدم مكانتها كعضو دائم في مجلس الأمن التابع للأمم المتحدة “للمطالبة باتخاذ إجراء عندما تخترق إسرائيل القانون الدولي”. وقد صرح أن الوقت قد حان لفضح نفاق الولايات المتحدة والآخرين “الذين يطالبون بأفعال حقيقية وتحقيقات مستقلة عندما تخالف دول أخرى هذه القوانين، ثم تغض الطرف عن إسرائيل. فهي ليست جيدة بما فيه الكفاية. وقد حان الوقت لنكون أكثر شجاعة عند التعامل مع قضية السلام في الشرق الأوسط ».
كما صرح وزير الخارجية في حكومة الظل بأن حكومة حزب العمل “ستكون مستعدة للإعراب بصوت مرتفع عن أنها تخجل من الأمم المتحدة ومجلس الأمن بعد أن تمكنت إسرائيل طوال عقود من تجاهل جميع القرارات التي أصدرتها الأمم المتحدة والإفلات من العقاب”. “وبما أن الولايات المتحدة قد أغلقت نفسها فعلياً من كونها وسيطًا للسلام ، فقد أكد ثورنبيري إنه يجب على بريطانيا والدول الأخرى التدخل لإحياء المحادثات بين الأطراف استناداً إلى مبادئ واضحة وجدول زمني واضح لتقديم حل الدولتين.

وأكد أحد أنصار الحقوق الفلسطينية على المدى الطويل، أندرو سلوتر عضو البرلمان، على أهمية مشاركة ثورنبيري في المسيرة، التي ربما لم تكن ممكن حدوثها قبل سنوات قليلة. ودعا إلى فرض حظر على سلع المستوطنات، ولكن ليس مقاطعة للمستوطنات في حد ذاتها.

وقالت المتحدة الاخيرة في الاجتماع، لبنى الشوملي، من مركز الموارد الفلسطينية لحقوق الإقامة واللاجئين (مركز بديل) إنه لا يكفي التحدث بالتضامن والاعتراف بفلسطين وحظر منتجات المستوطنات. وذهبت إلى أبعد من ذلك فبما أن إسرائيل لا تميز بين المنتجات الإسرائيلية والاستيطانية ، يجب أن نقاطع كل المنتجات الإسرائيلية. كما طالبت بفرض عقوبات على إسرائيل لأن الدول الأخرى ملزمة بمحاسبتها على انتهاكاتها للقوانين والاتفاقيات الدولية.

سوف تعود شوملي إلى فلسطين وتعكس الدعم الهائل للحقوق الفلسطينية التي شاهدتها بين المواطنين البريطانيين، الذين مارسوا الضغط على ممثليهم المنتخبين، ليس فقط في اللوبي البرلماني ولكن أيضاً على مدار العام. ومن المحزن أن نقول أنها لن تكون قادرة على استعادة نفس التجربة بعد زيارة أي من الدول العربية التي انشغلت بتطبيع العلاقات مع إسرائيل. و قد يرغب الناس في الدول العربية في إظهار التضامن مع الفلسطينيين والضغط على حكوماتهم للعمل من أجل دعم فلسطين، لكنهم يعيشون في ظل أنظمة سياسية لا تمتلك أي مؤسسات ديمقراطية تمثيلية. وبالتالي فإن إرادة الناس في هذه البلدان غير مجدية في الوقت الحالي.

اتجاهات: اليوم العالمي للتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني

شاركت في برنامج اتجاهات على قناة وطن المصرية بتاريخ ٣٠/١١/٢٠١٨

If there’s no occupation, then where are equal rights?

First published by the New Arab on 26/11/2018

Israel has had a ‘normalisation‘ bonanza with a number of Arab Gulf countries in recent weeks without having to give anything in return.
What had previously been relations under the table are now out in the open. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu breached the decades-long taboo of an Israeli prime minister making an official visit to an Arab state with whom Israel does not hold a peace treaty. The surprise visit was to Oman, for a meeting with Sultan Qaboos. 

Observers were further shocked by visits from Israeli sport and culture minister, Regev, to the United Arab Emirates and transport minister Yisrael Katz, to Oman.

The 2002 Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative, which offered Israel full normalisation with the Arab and Muslim world in return for peace with its neighbours – and which it rejected – has effectively been surpassed with normalisation at no cost.

The normalising Arab countries appear to have succumbed to Trump’s pressure to normalise first, and hope that peace follows. Trump’s advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have collected many air miles doing work for Netanyahu, shuttling between Tel Aviv and Arab capitals, convincing Arab leaders that Iran is the threat, not Israel, and that Israel could be their ally in combating the threat from Tehran.

The Trump administration appears to have succeeded in shifting their focus away from the Palestinian issue which has until recently been the central obstacle to normalisation. I talk here of course about Arab leaders, not people, for whom the Palestinian issue is still a central issue.

The question though, is how can normalisation first, bring peace? Cynics and optimists alike are of the view that it will not bring peace. For Israel’s supporters and lobbyists, what is important is quiet, not peace.

This was illustrated by their failure to call on Netanyahu to return to meaningful negotiations, and to show ‘good faith’, while supporting Israel’s recent attack on Gaza following its botched operation to abduct or assassinate a Hamas commander in Khan Younis. 

After his visit to Oman, Netanyahu cut short his visit to France, where he was scheduled to attend the commemoration of 100 years since the World War I Armistice truce. 

He swapped a seat on the front row there for security meetings in Tel Aviv, following renewed violence in the Gaza Strip. 

Israel’s supporters, including Trump’s team, blamed the Palestinian resistance for responding to Israeli aggression. Netanyahu was faced with a choice of either a full-scale war on Gaza, or reinstating a ceasefire.

Both would be politically costly, though only one would also result in more deaths and injuries. Thankfully, Netanyahu chose the former. The political price he paid was the resignation of his Defence Minister and rival, Avigdor Lieberman together with pro-war demonstrations by Israeli settlers.

In between his normalisation PR trip and the botched operation in Gaza, Netanyahu provided yet more evidence that normalisation with Arab states would not bring peace. 

He stated at a Likud factional meeting that claims that Israel occupies the Palestinians are absurd, and that “Occupation is nonsense. Empires have conquered and replaced entire populations and no one is talking about it”.   

What truly matters is strong diplomacy, Netanyahu added. “Power changes everything in our policy with Arab countries.”

According to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu told his party colleagues that concessions are regarded as a weakness in the Middle East, which don’t bring about lasting change. Instead, “aligning [Arab] interests with Israel, based on Israel being a technological superpower, must lead the way.”

If Jerusalem is recognised by the US as Israel’s capital, with small countries planning to join the US in moving their embassies from Tel Aviv and with plans afoot to void the Palestinian refugees’ right of return, added to Netanyahu’s declaration that there is no occupation, what exactly are Arab countries expecting in return for normalisation?

Netanyahu has declared that Israel must maintain security over the whole of historic Palestine in any future deal, but that is not all.

According to the controversial Nation State Law which was passed into basic law in July, only Jews have a right to self-determination in Israel, whose borders remain unknown and settlements are not illegal. If this is to be the case, there are no items remaining on an agenda for any future talks. 

Israel will therefore continue to rule over all those who inhabit the land between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, but without affording the equal rights that democratic states would offer. 

This qualifies it as the 21st century’s only Apartheid state.

When millions of people around the world call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel, the Arab states choose this very moment to normalise. This is not a politically wise decision. 

The Palestinians yearn to return to the very homes they and their parents were expelled from in 1948, which international law supports as a basic human right. 

The Palestinian National Council recently decided to mandate the PLO’s Executive Committee to withdraw recognition of Israel, as it continues to deny recognition of Palestine and the rights of Palestinians. 

Now is the time for Palestinians to call for equal rights for all who live in historic Palestine, and for the Palestinian refugees to return. A truly democratic state for all would end the dispute about what is or is not occupied now. It would also surely bring peace to the Holy Land, and only then, deserved normalisation with the Arab and Muslim world.