The PNC meeting was ‘much ado about nothing’

First published by the Middle East Monitor on 7/5/2018

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (2nd L) makes a speech during the 23rd session of the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, West Bank on 30 April 2018 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
After a 22-year lull, the highest Palestinian legislative authority of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Palestinian National Council (PNC), finally met in Ramallah for its 23rd session. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas faced severe criticism for holding the meeting in Ramallah, which remains under occupation, thus excluding many members and figures who would not be allowed into the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) by Israel, or who faced arrest and even assassination if they attempted to enter.
The PNC consists of 765 members, including 198 independents, 132 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), 49 representing Fatah, 98 representing other factions and a whole multitude of members representing different Palestinian organisations.


The meeting was held in the smart Ahmad Shukeiri Hall in Ramallah, named after the first chairman of the PLO; it was filled to the rafters when Abbas was in attendance over four long days. The front row, reserved for the leadership, looked as familiar as ever; it lacked any significant representation of women, non-Fatah faction representatives or young blood. The 23rd session of the PNC was named the “Jerusalem and protecting legitimacy round” in reference to the dangers Jerusalem faces and the need to renew the legitimacy of a number of the PLO institutions.

The meeting was boycotted by three major Palestinian factions — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) — and a number of independent figures, including well-known members like Dr Salman Abu Sitta, Abdel Bari Atwan and Dr Anis Kassem.

Dr Salman Abu Sitta at Middle East Monitor's 'Jerusalem: Legalising the Occupation' conference in London, UK on March 3, 2018 [Jehan Alfarra/Middle East Monitor]

Dr Salman Abu Sitta at Middle East Monitor’s ‘Jerusalem: Legalising the Occupation’ conference in London, UK on March 3, 2018 [Jehan Alfarra/Middle East Monitor]

The meeting kicked off on 30 April with chaotic scenes as attendance was established by every name of the hundreds of existing members being read out and recorded as present or absent; various lists of replacements were placed in front of the ageing Chairman of the PNC, Saleem Al-Zanoun, adding to the confusion. The session concluded with a proclamation that the meeting was quorate, made to rapturous applause.

What followed was another rambling speech by Abbas lasting for 1 hour 48 minutes. Listening to it, I struggled to identify anything significant to take away with me, which was astonishing given the gravity of the situation the Palestinians face. Nor was there anything to distinguish it from his last speech to another PLO institution, the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) in January. While supposed to be reading his speech, Abbas went off script regularly, which is not a good idea when every word is scrutinised by friend and foe alike, especially when it comes to his attempts to present his version of history to an international audience. His explanation of the reason for the Holocaust drew almost universal condemnation, including some from the Israeli Prime Minister, Britain’s Foreign Secretary and the editorial board of the New York Times. While a more accurate translation of what he said gives context to his remarks, he should really have learnt by now that venturing into this area provides an open goal for accusations of anti-Semitism and those want to quote him out of context.

Attendees listened to speech after speech from leaders, members and guests representing various organisations and over 30 friendly states. The general message was one of support for the Palestinian cause, rejection of Trump’s US Embassy move and an emphasis on the importance of holding the PNC meeting. However, it was the many conversations, sometimes heated, taking place behind the scenes about possible names for membership of the PNC, PLO Executive Committee and the PCC that drove the real business of the meeting.

The closing session took place in the late hours of day four, concluding with a shorter speech by Abbas and the emerging decisions of the PNC. Abbas was “re-elected” by proclamation as President of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO. The PNC Chairman reminded the meeting how decisions are reached in the PNC, by standing up and applauding. There is no ballot. This drew heavy criticism from Nabil Amer, a former PLO Ambassador to Egypt, who had wanted to stand for the Executive Committee. He was initially told not to speak by Abbas but was eventually allowed to say a few words by the PNC Chairman. He simply reiterated his intention to struggle for decisions to be taken through a ballot and called on the PNC to hold Legislative Council and Presidential elections without delay.

Amer’s remarks were only heard after the PNC agreed to Abbas’s list of members of the Executive Committee, which he claimed had been agreed with “nationalistic factions”. Fifteen names were presented, including seven former members and eight new people. Those familiar to followers of Palestinian politics were Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat and Hanan Ashrawi. Abbas explained that the Committee had kept three seats vacant to allow the PFLP, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which boycotted the meeting, to join the PNC. In the case of Hamas, he conditioned this on the movement agreeing to abide by existing agreements. “We don’t want to see them out of our national unity and we don’t like exclusion,” he claimed.

The PNC was also asked to approve membership of the smaller PCC, which was to take on the terms of reference of the PNC due to the difficulties it faces in meeting annually, as it should. Presenting the names, the newly-installed Executive Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad, known for his role in negotiating reconciliation with Hamas, stressed the great efforts made to ensure the widest possible geographic and factional representation on the PCC.

Earlier, 35 PNC members urged Abbas to end the sanctions he had imposed on the Gaza Strip since May 2017 to force Hamas, which has controlled the coastal enclave since 2007, to hand over power to the Palestinian Authority. Abbas skated around the subject but confirmed that the April salaries for those on the PA payroll in Gaza would be paid immediately and that the lack of payment had been due to a “technical hitch” and was not intended to punish the besieged workers.

In his closing remarks, Abbas took a swipe at those who boycotted the meeting held under occupation. “When we said [that we will] meet in this beautiful Ahmad Shukeiri Hall we are in our country, in our homeland not under the pikes of the occupier,” he insisted. “Yes, there is an occupation, but we can say what we want here. I am not prepared to go and seek a place to meet in an Arab country or any other when I can meet on my land.”

The closing statement of the 23rd PNC meeting is long but uninspiring. It reiterates the decisions of the PCC held in January, which remain un-actioned, including suspending recognition of Israel until it recognises Palestine and the end of security cooperation with the occupying power.

Much will now be written about the PNC meeting, its legitimacy, operation and decisions. Those who questioned its legitimacy will not change their stance, but what can they do to oppose them? The significant Palestinian factions which boycotted the gathering are unlikely to suddenly accept the invitation to re-join a body that they consider illegitimate. Healing the pain of the division has been taken off the table. Fatah and the small number of individuals around the Palestinian President will continue to operate without wide consultation and take crucial decisions on issues facing the Palestinian people. There is no accountability for the actions of the Palestinian leadership including, the Palestinian National Authority. Has it delivered any meaningful improvement to the lives of Palestinians or moved them closer to achieving their legitimate rights? Can refugees in Jordan, Lebanon or Syria see an end to their exile? Are the Palestinians in the diaspora represented in the PLO’s institutions in the proportion that they should be, or are they simply a number to call upon when the scale of the suffering of the Palestinians since the Nakba needs to be highlighted? Sadly, the reality is that there is no new emerging strategy to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians or to oppose the Trump juggernaut as it implements Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s diktats on “peace” through what is touted as the “deal of the century”.

The 23rd meeting of the PNC has come and gone and will in my view be remembered as one of the least significant events in Palestinian history; it was definitely “much ado about nothing”. However, Abbas pleased the meeting by announcing that Palestinian child prisoner Ahed Tamimi, convicted for slapping an Israeli soldier, will be made an honorary member of the Council. We might have to wait a little longer, but perhaps a President Ahed Tamimi or a member of her generation will one day take up the baton and lead the Palestinians to justice, freedom and equality.


Terroriser les enfants palestiniens, une politique israélienne délibérée

Published by the Middle East Eye French Edition on 9/1/2018

Le père fondateur d’Israël, David Ben Gourion, a dit un jour à propos des Palestiniens : « Les vieux mourront et les jeunes oublieront. » Il avait tort

Au début de la deuxième Intifada, en 2000, l’image de Mohammed al-Durah, un Palestinien de 12 ans que son père essayait de protéger des tirs israéliens en suppliant les soldats de cesser le feu, est devenue emblématique. Les balles ont continué de siffler et Mohammed est mort de ses blessures.

Presque un mois plus tard, une autre image d’un enfant palestinien pris au milieu du conflit est devenue virale.

Fares Odeh (14 ans) a été filmé en train de jeter courageusement des pierres sur un char israélien dans la bande de Gaza. Il a été tué par les forces israéliennes le 8 novembre de la même année.

De la pure haine

Mercredi dernier, l’armée israélienne a tué Musab Firas al-Tamimi (17 ans), originaire du village de Deir Nitham en Cisjordanie, faisant de lui le premier Palestinien abattu par les forces israéliennes en 2018.

En 2004, la mort d’Iman Darweesh al-Hams (13 ans) a parfaitement illustré la cruauté israélienne, et ce que les Palestiniens considèrent comme de la pure haine envers leurs enfants. Elle a été abattue par les soldats de l’armée israélienne depuis un poste d’observation dans ce qu’Israël a déclaré être une zone « tampon » près de la route Philadelphi à Rafah.

Comme si cela ne suffisait pas, le commandant des soldats de l’armée israélienne a vidé tout le chargeur de son fusil automatique sur le corps de l’enfant. Un an plus tard, ce commandant n’a exprimé aucun regret concernant ses actions au cours du procès et a déclaré qu’il aurait « fait la même chose même si la fillette avait eu 3 ans ».

Il a été acquitté de toutes les accusations majeures.

Selon Défense des Enfants International-Palestine (DCIP), 595 enfants ont été tués durant la seconde Intifada, au cours de laquelle les meurtres mentionnés ci-dessus se sont produits.

Des enfants palestiniens font du vélo à côté de soldats israéliens qui patrouillent dans la vieille ville d’Hébron en Cisjordanie en décembre 2005 (AFP)

Ces dernières années, les enfants de Gaza ont souffert à maintes reprises aux mains de l’armée israélienne, en particulier au cours des trois dernières guerres majeures. La guerre de 2008-2009 a entraîné la mort de 280 enfants. Trente-trois enfants sont morts au cours de la guerre de 2012 et 490 lors de la guerre la plus récente, en 2014.

Entre 2000 et 2017, DCIP rapporte que 2 022 enfants palestiniens ont été tués par les forces israéliennes, soit une moyenne de 25 par mois. Au cours de la même période, 137 enfants israéliens ont été tués par des Palestiniens.

Il ne s’agit bien sûr pas de comparer les bilans, mais cela donne une indication de l’impact terrible de l’occupation israélienne et des guerres répétées sur les Palestiniens, en particulier sur les enfants.

Il est important de noter que, contrairement aux enfants israéliens tués dans le conflit, la plupart des enfants palestiniens tués par Israël sont anonymes, englobés dans les décomptes de victimes. Les médias israéliens s’assurent en revanche que les noms et les photos des enfants israéliens morts sont diffusés le plus largement possible.

Enfants dans les tribunaux militaires

Il n’y a actuellement aucun enfant israélien détenu par des Palestiniens. En comparaison, environ 450 enfants palestiniens ont été placés en détention par Israël. Ils sont jugés par des tribunaux militaires, amenés devant les juges militaires enchaînés – comme le monde l’a vu après qu’Ahed al-Tamimi (16 ans) a été enlevée aux premières heures du 20 décembre dernier.


Selon DCIP, 500 à 700 enfants palestiniens sont détenus chaque année par Israël. L’accusation la plus courante est le jet de pierres. Cependant, DCIP estime que depuis 2000, au moins 8 000 enfants palestiniens ont été arrêtés et poursuivis dans le cadre du système de détention militaire israélien.

DCIP rapporte que dans 590 des cas documentés entre 2012 et 2016, 72 % des enfants palestiniens détenus ont dit avoir subi des violences physiques et 66 % ont fait l’objet de violences verbales et d’humiliations.

Selon Khaled Quzmar, directeur général de DCIP, « malgré les contacts permanents avec les institutions de l’ONU et les appels répétés au respect du droit international, l’armée et la police israéliennes continuent les arrestations nocturnes, la violence physique, la coercition et les menaces contre les enfants palestiniens ».

Une fois emmenés dans un véhicule de l’armée israélienne, ils sont malmenés et, dans certains cas, emmenés en Israël, ce qui est contraire au droit international humanitaire. Ils sont souvent interrogés sans la présence d’un parent ou d’un avocat et sont souvent invités à signer des aveux en hébreu qu’ils ne savent pas lire.

Visés de manière disproportionnée

Les enfants de Jérusalem et d’Hébron semblent être visés de manière disproportionnée. Une vidéo de l’armée israélienne détenant un garçon de 5 ans à Hébron a fait la une des journaux du monde entier. Un autre enfant de 6 ans a été détenu pendant cinq heures dans le camp de réfugiés de Jalazun, en Cisjordanie.

Tareq Abukhdeir, un adolescent américano-palestinien qui a été passé à tabac par la police israélienne, n’a reçu aucune assistance du consulat américain à Jérusalem-Est. Son cousin Mohammed a été brûlé vif par des terroristes juifs plus tôt la même année.

Il semble qu’Israël applique une politique délibérée visant à terroriser les enfants palestiniens afin de les dissuader de s’engager dans la résistance palestinienne à l’âge adulte.

Dans de nombreuses affaires, le processus d’arrestation commence avec l’enlèvement des enfants chez eux à l’aube, les arrachant à leurs lits.

Le lit d’un enfant, sa maison sont des endroits où les enfants devraient se sentir en sécurité, mais ce n’est pas le cas des enfants palestiniens. Un coup à la porte, un nom crié, l’entrée forcée d’une chambre à coucher peut arriver à n’importe quel enfant palestinien et sans crier gare. On ne tient aucun compte de l’âge ou des circonstances.

Beaucoup d’enfants palestiniens sont maintenant sur « les registres d’Israël ». Cela rend plus facile pour Israël de faire appel à eux à tout moment, soit pour des soupçons d’implication dans des jets de pierres, soit pour arracher des preuves contre d’autres.

Une longue liste

L’adolescente palestinienne Ahed Tamimi rejoint maintenant une longue liste de détenus. Au lieu d’essayer de comprendre pourquoi Ahed s’en est prise au soldat qui est venu sans y être invité dans son village occupé illégalement, le ministre israélien de l’Éducation a suggéré qu’elle et d’autres jeunes filles palestiniennes devaient « passer le reste de leurs jours en prison ».

Le célèbre journaliste israélien Ben Caspit écrivait pour sa part que « dans le cas des filles, nous devrions les faire payer à une autre occasion, dans l’obscurité, sans témoin ni caméra ».

Israël accuse souvent les Palestiniens d’inciter les enfants et les jeunes adultes à résister à l’occupation, y compris par la violence. Mettre fin à l’incitation à la haine a été ajouté à une liste de plus en plus longue d’exigences israéliennes imposées aux Palestiniens.

La photo de l’arrestation de l’adolescent palestinien Fawzi al-Junaidi, prise par le photographe palestinien Wisam Hashlamoun, est devenue virale sur les réseaux sociaux le 7 décembre 2017 (Twitter/@marro_lb)

Cependant, les enfants n’ont besoin d’aucune incitation de la part de qui que ce soit lorsqu’ils vivent l’occupation et les humiliations au quotidien.

Alors que de nombreux enfants palestiniens inspirent les autres par leur fermeté et leur résistance, d’autres enfants palestiniens représentent aussi un symbole d’espoir alors qu’ils luttent sur différents fronts, en remportant des compétitions internationales. Afaf Sharif(17 ans) a battu 7,4 millions de participants pour remporter le titre de champion de l’Arab Reading Challenge cette année.

En 2015, Dania Husni al-Jaabari (14 ans) et Ahmad Ayman Nashwieh (8 ans) ont remporté respectivement les première et deuxième places du concours Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic à Singapour, battant 3 000 autres enfants. Deux ans plus tôt, Areej el-Madhoon (14 ans) avait remporté le même concours.

À LIRE : Destruction : la rentrée scolaire dans les territoires palestiniens occupés

Les enfants palestiniens nés dans la diaspora ont également inspiré les autres. Leanne Mohamad, une jeune Palestinienne de 15 ans, a remporté un défi régional d’expression à Londres en 2015-2016 en évoquant les effets de la Nakba sur les Palestiniens. Nous ne saurons jamais si elle aurait gagné la compétition principale puisque son prix a été retiré par les organisateurs sous la pression de groupes pro-israéliens.

Le père fondateur d’Israël, David Ben Gourion, a dit un jour à propos des Palestiniens : « Les vieux mourront et les jeunes oublieront. » Il avait tort.


– Kamel Hawwash est un professeur britannico-palestinien d’ingénierie à l’Université de Birmingham et un militant de longue date pour la justice, en particulier pour le peuple palestinien. Il est vice-président du British Palestinian Policy Council (BPPC) et membre du Comité exécutif de la Campagne de solidarité avec la Palestine (PSC). Hawwash apparaît régulièrement dans les médias comme commentateur sur les questions du Moyen-Orient. Il dirige le blog Vous pouvez le suivre sur Twitter : @kamelhawwash. Il a rédigé cet article à titre personnel.

Les opinions exprimées dans cet article n’engagent que leur auteur et ne reflètent pas nécessairement la politique éditoriale de Middle East Eye.

Photo : une Palestinienne tient une affiche montrant un enfant qui pleure lors d’une manifestation en soutien aux enfants de la bande de Gaza en juillet 2014 dans la ville de Naplouse, dans le nord de la Cisjordanie (AFP).

Traduit de l’anglais (original) par VECTranslation.

Israel implements a deliberate policy to terrorise Palestinian children

First published by the Middle East Eye on 4/1/2018

At the start of the second intifada in 2000, an iconic image emerged of Muhammad al-Durra, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, as he was being shielded from Israeli fire by his father who begged the soldiers to stop shooting. The bullets, however, continued and al-Durra died from the wounds he sustained.

Almost a month later, another image of a Palestinian child, caught in the conflict, went viral.

Fares Odeh, 14, was caught on camera fearlessly throwing stones at an Israeli tank in the Gaza Strip. Odeh was killed by Israeli forces on 8 November that same year.

Sheer hatred

On Wednesday, the Israeli army killed Musab Firas al-Tamimi, 17, from the village of Deir Nitham, in the West Bank, making him the first Palestinian to be shot dead by Israeli forces in 2018.

Israeli cruelty, and what Palestinians view as sheer hatred for their children, was epitomised by the killing in 2004 of 13-year-old Iman Darweesh Al Hams. She was shot by Israeli army soldiers from an observation post in what Israel claimed was a “no-man” zone near the Philadelphi Route in Rafah.

As if that was not enough, the Israeli army commander of the soldiers fired the entire magazine of his automatic rifle into Hams’s body. A year later, that commander during trialexpressed no regret over his actions and said he would have “done the same even if the girl was a three-year-old”.

He was cleared of all major charges.

According to the Defence for Children International-Palestine (DCIP), 595 children were killed during the second intifada, during which the above killings took place.

Palestinian children ride their bike past Israeli soldiers patrolling in the old city of Hebron in the West Bank in December 2005 (AFP)

In recent years, Gaza’s children have suffered repeatedly at the hands of the Israeli army, particularly during the past three major wars. The 2008-9 war resulted in the death of 280 children. The death toll in the 2012 war was 33 children and in the most recent war, in 2014, 490 children were killed by Israeli fire.

In the period between 2000 to 2017 the DCIP reports that 2,022 Palestinian children lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli forces, an average of 25 per month. During that same period, 137 Israeli children were killed by Palestinians.

It is of course not about counting numbers but this does give an indication of the terrible impact of the Israeli occupation and repeated wars on the Palestinians, particularly on the children.

It is important to note that unlike Israeli children killed in the conflict, most Palestinian children killed by Israel are anonymous and become part of the death count. Israeli media ensures the names and images of dead Israeli children are transmitted as widely as possible. Palestinians do not have the same reach.

Children in military courts

There are currently no Israeli children being detained by Palestinians. However, there are some 450 Palestinian children who have been placed in detention by Israel. They are tried in military courts, brought to face the military judges in shackles – as the world saw after 16-year-old Ahed al-Tamimi was abducted in the early hours of 20 December last year.

According to the DCIP, 500 to 700Palestinian children are detained by Israel every year. The most common charge is stone throwing. The DCIP, however, says that since 2000 at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested and prosecuted in the Israeli military detention system.

The DCIP reports that in 590 cases documented between 2012 and 2016, 72 percent of Palestinian child detainees reported physical violence and 66 percent faced verbal abuse and humiliation.

According to Khaled Quzmar, DCIP’s general director, “despite ongoing engagement with UN bodies and repeated calls to abide by international law, Israeli military and police continue night arrests, physical violence, coercion, and threats against Palestinian children”.


Once bundled into an Israeli army vehicle, they are manhandled and in some cases are taken into Israel which is against international humanitarian law. They are often interrogated without the presence of a parent or a lawyer and are often asked to sign confessions in Hebrew which they cannot read.

Disproportionately targeted

Children in Jerusalem and Hebron seem to have been disproportionately targeted. A video of the Israeli army detaining a five-year-old boy in Hebron made headlines around the world. Another six-year-old child was detained for five hours in Jalazun refugee camp in the West Bank.

Tareq Abukhdeir, a Palestinian-American teen who was beaten savagely by Israeli police, was not offered any assistance by the US consulate in East Jerusalem. His cousin Mohammed was burnt alive by Jewish terrorists earlier that year.

It seems that Israel is implementing a deliberate policy to terrorise Palestinian children to dissuade them from engaging in Palestinian resistance as they grow into adulthood.

However, in many cases the arrest process begins with the first abduction in the early hours, snatching them from their beds.

A child’s bed, his/her home are the place where children should feel secure, but not Palestinian children. The knock on the door, the shouting of a name, the forced entry into a bedroom, can happen to any Palestinian child and without warning. No regard for age or circumstance is given.

Many Palestinian children are now on “Israel’s books”. This makes it easier for Israel to call on them at any time either for suspicion of involvement in stone throwing or to extract evidence against others.

A long list

Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi now joins a long list of detainees. Instead of trying to understand why Ahed lashed out at the soldier who came uninvited into her illegally occupied village, the Israeli education minister suggested she and other Palestinian girls should “spend the rest of their days in prison”.

While prominent Israeli journalist Ben Caspit wrote that “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”.

Israel often accuses Palestinians of incitement that encourages children and young adults to resist the occupation, including through violence. Ending incitement has been added to an ever growing list of Israeli demands they place on the Palestinians.

A photo of Palestinian teen Fawzi Al-Junaidi being arrested, taken by the Palestinian photographer Wisam Hashlamoun, went viral on social media on 7 December 2017 (Twitter/@marro_lb)

However, children need no incitement from anyone when they experience occupation and humiliation on a daily basis.

While many Palestinian children inspire others through their steadfastness and resistance, other Palestinian children also represent a beacon of hope as they struggle on different fronts, by winning international competitions. Seventeen-year-old Afaf Sharif beat 7.4 million contestants to win this year’s title as the champion of the Arab Reading Challenge.

In 2015 Dania Husni al-Jaabari, 14, and Ahmad Ayman Nashwieh, eight, won first and second place respectively in the Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic Competition in Singapore, beating 3,000 other children. Two years earlier, 14-year-old Areej El Madhoon won the same competition.

Palestinian children born in the diaspora have also inspired others. Fifteen-year-old British-Palestinian Leanne Mohamad won a 2015-16 Speak Out regional challenge in London speaking about the effect of the Nakba on Palestinians. We will never know if she would have won the main competition as her award was withdrawn by the organisers under pressure from pro-Israel groups.

Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion once said about the Palestinians: “The old will die and the young will forget.” How wrong was he about the Palestinian people.

– Kamel Hawwash is a British-Palestinian engineering professor based at the University of Birmingham and a long-standing campaigner for justice, especially for the Palestinian people. He is vice chair of the British Palestinian Policy Council (BPPC) and a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). He appears regularly in the media as commentator on Middle East issues. He runs a blog at and tweets at @kamelhawwashHe writes here in a personal capacity.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: A Palestinian girl holds a placard showing a picture of a child crying during a demonstration in support of the children of the Gaza Strip in July 2014 in the West Bank northern city of Nablus (AFP)