I was interviewed by RT UK on 20/7/2018
I was interviewed by RT UK on 20/7/2018
I was interviewed by Press TV on 19/7/2018
مشاركتي في برنامج وراء الحدث على قناة الغد بتاريخ 1 مايو 2018
تواصل أعمال الدورة الـ 23 للمجلس الوطنى الفلسطينى لليوم الثانى بمقر الرئاسة الفلسطينية فى مدينة رام الله، اليوم الثلاثاء، والتى افتتحت مساء أمس الاثنين بخطاب للرئيس الفلسطينى، ورئيس اللجنة التنفيذية لمنظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، محمود عباس أبو مازن، ولرئيس المجلس الوطنى سليم الزعنون، يأتي هذا الأمر في ظل غياب الجبهة الشعبية عن الحضور ورفض حركتي حماس والجهاد الإسلامي عقد تلك الجلسات من الأساس فما هي المواقف من الخطاب المطول للرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس في الافتتاح؟ وكيف سيتم التعامل مع مخرجات الجلسة في حال التباين بشأنها ؟ وما هو موقف حماس بعد دعوة عباس لها بتسليم قطاع غزة أو تحمل مسؤولياتها؟ وهل تقوى الجلسة الموقف الفلسطيني أم تضعفه؟ … وكان التباين حول جلسة الوطني هو محور النقاش بحلقة اليوم من برنامج وراء الحدث، حيث ناقش مقدم البرنامج علاء الشيخ كلاً من يحيي موسى عضو المجلس التشريعي عن حركة حماس، ومحمد هواش، المحلل السياسي، وماجد كيالي المحلل السياسي، كامل حواش المحلل السياسي.
تداعيات قرارات عباس ستكون سلبية على قطاع غزة
I was interviewed by RT on 12/4/2018. Published 14/4/2018
Report and video here
مشاركتي في برنامج المشهد على قناة الحوار بتاريخ ٣/٤/٢٠١٨
First published by the Arab Weekly on 1/4/2018
The takeaway message on reconciliation is that it has been kicked into the long grass.
The Palestinian people are reeling from two explosions that effectively demolished hopes for Fatah/Hamas reconciliation. One was a real explosion that targeted the Palestinian prime minister’s convoy as it entered Gaza and the other was a political grenade that Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas lobbed into the mix during a speech to the Palestinian leadership shortly after that incident.
Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s car escaped the attack but vehicles at the back of the convoy were damaged. Hamdallah went on to inaugurate a water treatment plant as planned and then left the besieged strip to Ramallah. Accusations followed as to who was responsible for the attack. The Palestinian Authority immediately blamed Hamas, which opened an investigation into the attack but denied responsibility for it.
It is true that Hamas is in charge of security in the Gaza Strip following the failure of repeated attempts at reconciliation to extend the jurisdiction of the Hamdallah government over Gaza. It is, therefore, embarrassing for Hamas that this incident happened under its watch. However, it is not immediately obvious what Hamas would gain from attacking the PA prime minister.
Hamas released a video of its investigation. Suspects Anas Abu Khousa and Abdulhadi Alash’hab died during attempts to capture them. Another suspect was injured and was hospitalised. Two security officers died in the confrontation.
The Hamas video includes confessions by others saying they helped Abu Khousa plan and carry out the attack and concludes with the assertion that the investigation revealed that the bomb was primed a day before Hamas Security Chief Tawfiq Abu Nuaim was informed of Hamdallah’s impending visit. While it did not accuse either the PA or Israel of orchestrating the attack, the video asked: “Who informed the cell of the PM’s visit?”
Abbas did not wait for the outcome of Hamas’s investigation, opting to address the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah with what was a truly explosive speech. Abbas castigated Hamas for the attack and for scuppering reconciliation efforts that have come to a halt.
Abbas claimed that the PA had engaged with reconciliation efforts since October 12, 2017, but “was shocked to have achieved nothing in relation to enabling the government to take control in Gaza.”
He claimed the attack was part of a “plan” to separate Gaza from the motherland to create the “state of Gaza” and that this was always a US and Israeli goal, which started with the coup in 2007. Now US President Donald Trump wants to implement this alongside taking Jerusalem and the refugee issues off the negotiating table, making his “ultimate deal” unacceptable to Abbas.
He claimed the recent humanitarian summit at the White House on Gaza was part of the Trump plan.
Abbas asserted that, following intensive meetings in Egypt, Hamas had said it would implement conditions set by the PA in previous agreements but said Hamas reneged when it told the PA that “security is yours above ground but ours below.” This was a reference to what Abbas claimed Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar meant when promising to build tunnels and manufacture more rockets in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas gave Hamas an ultimatum: Either the PA takes control of everything — in accordance with the agreements — and therefore responsibility for Gaza or Hamas can keep control but that means taking full responsibility for the Gaza Strip.
Abbas concluded with a promise that he will take all “national, legal and financial actions necessary to protect the national project” without outlining what these would be. He looked angry, tired and short of ideas.
The takeaway message on reconciliation is that it has been kicked into the long grass. It may even be the case that 2018 will see what Palestinians always hoped is a temporary division between their two biggest factions become permanent. This does not augur well for Palestinians in general and for the 2 million besieged residents of Gaza, in particular. The future is bleak.
First published by the Arab Weekly on 1/4/2018
I never had the honour of meeting Rim Banna or hearing her sing in person but that did not stop me from shedding a tear when I heard she had succumbed to her illness a few days after Mother’s Day. She died March 24 in her birthplace, Nazareth, at the age of 51 after a 9-year battle with breast cancer.
My tears were for the loss of a Palestinian cultural icon and a supporter of justice whose smile lit up every photo or video I had seen of her. Her smile transcended borders and reached into every Palestinian home from China to Chile, from Finland to Cape Town.
If proof were needed of where her biggest love lay, it came during her funeral when mourners movingly recited “Mawtini”
(“My Homeland”), the unofficial national anthem of Palestine. Banna dedicated her life and much of her art to the homeland of 13 million Palestinians of all nationalities and faiths — Palestine.
Banna was a singer, composer, musical arranger and activist. She was immersed in Palestinian culture from an early age. Her mother is poet Zuhaira Sabbagh. Her formal musical education was undertaken at the Higher Music Conservatory in Moscow. That is where she met Ukrainian guitarist Leonid Alexeyenko, whom she married in 1991, a marriage that lasted 19 years. She raised their children alone from then on.
The training she had in Russia broadened her musical skills, which she skilfully applied to develop modern interpretations of traditional Palestinian songs. She was particularly successful in using her rapporteur of skills and talent to breathe new life into children’s songs and popular women’s melodies without divorcing them from their or her Palestinian roots.
Banna performed her music in a youthful, magical manner, which reached deep into the hearts of her audiences. Her music has been described as “haunting, emotional, at times bordering on kitsch.” She said her music was a means of cultural self-assertion.
She wrote and composed her own songs and added melodies to poetry, including works by Palestinian poets such as Mahmoud Darwish and Samih al-Qasim.
Her message often focused on the suffering of Palestinians. She sang of the stolen homeland, of the children of the refugee camps, of the bleeding youth of Gaza on the way to long-awaited freedom.
Where she could, Banna performed concerts, such as in Jerusalem and the West Bank. For places she could not reach in person, such as Gaza, she made webcasts to reach her fans.
Banna was not only an ambassador for Palestinian music and song but also for traditional Palestinian dress, as she was always clad in embroidered Palestinian clothing and large, antique silver jewellery.
Her cultural legacy consists of at least ten albums, stories, songs, thousands of words, films she appeared in and jewellery she designed.
Banna will be remembered for being one of the first artists to call for a cultural boycott of Israel. She could not understand the hypocrisy of artists whose work encouraged resistance and called for liberation but who also agreed to perform in an occupying country.
She applied the occupation theme to her battle with cancer, describing it as the occupier in her body. She resisted it with all her power, despite losing her wild, curly hair. Some of the most iconic photographs were of her with a shaved head, which enunciated her big eyes and a smile that lit the image, defiant and strong.
In 2016, Banna lost the ability to sing after cancer ravaged her vocal chords. Surgery could not resurrect her beautiful voice but she could still speak. “It’s not the same thing but I will continue to sing to my people, as long as I breathe,” she said then.
I bet Rim Banna is looking down on us with her beaming smile, happy that, even in death, she strengthened the bond between Palestinians and their homeland as more of her compatriots scoured the internet for her songs, which they will learn and hum for years.
Farewell, Rim Banna. You are in a better place but we promise you that the young will not forget Palestine and your music will outlast us all to provide them and generations after that, if need be, inspiration to carry on the fight for freedom, justice and equality.