Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

October 3, 2015

Longstanding restrictions on the movement of people and goods to and from Gaza have undermined the living conditions of 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza. Many of the current restrictions, originally imposed by Israel in the early 1990s, were intensified after June 2007, following the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the imposition of a sc blockade or siege. The situation has been compounded by the restrictions imposed since June 2013 by the Egyptian authorities at Rafah Crossing.

Gaza vs Rafah

Kerem Shalom vs Rafah 2015

Despite restrictions there has been whole time – even during conflicts/wars – movement of commodities as well Palestinians to and from Gaza via Israeli border crossings. During last months movement of goods has increased via Kerem Shalom Crossing at Israeli border to/from Gaza but is almost non-existent via Rafah Crossing at Egyptian border. Besides official border crossings Egypt is now implementing measures which will totally block unofficial traffic aka smuggling.  In my opinion Egypt not Israel is blocking Gaza.

 

The Rafah Border Crossing

The Rafah Border Crossing lies on the international border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip that was recognized by the 1979 Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty and confirmed during the 1982 Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. The crossing was managed by the Israel Airports Authority until Israel evacuated Gaza on 11 September 2005 as part of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan. It subsequently became the task of the European Union Border Assistance Mission Rafah (EUBAM) to monitor the crossing. Though Israel and Egypt allow limited imports into Gaza, the economy of Gaza largely relies on illicit trade that flourishes via an alternative “tunnel economy.” Hamas enriches itself at the expense of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by collecting tolls from tunnel operators and import taxes on goods brought into Gaza. This second economy increases ordinary Gazans’ reliance on Hamas rule, which most would prefer to see end. Making peace deal only between Israel and the PA does not solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ignoring Gaza further incentives Hamas to oppose peace with Israel and any deal its Palestinian adversaries conclude.

Since former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in June 2013, the Egyptian military has been trying to eliminate the smuggling tunnels beneath the border in the southern Gaza Strip, destroying them and expanding the buffer zone.  Egypt has demolished tunnels e.g. by exploding them, Egyptian army also fires tear gas or throws wastewater inside the tunnels to kill diggers. Rafah crossing with Egypt has been closed almost permanently since October 2014, heavily restricting those who can enter or leave the Gaza Strip. Egypt closed the border after relations soured between the Gazan and Egyptian leaderships after the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the ensuing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its followers. Egypt has linked instability in the Sinai peninsula to Gaza causing it to isolate the strip. Since 17th September 2015 the Egyptian army has been pumping large volumes of Mediterranean Sea waters  into the buffer zone that it began building two years ago, along 14 kilometers of the Palestinian-Egyptian border. The move is the latest attempt to destroy the tunnels dug by Palestinians under the city of Rafah over the years of the Israeli blockade. (Source and more e.g. in Al-Monitor )
rafah_tunnel-e1406588938670 (2)

2014—15 Egyptian demolition of homes and terror/smuggling tunnels

In 2008 and 2009, according to media reports and the US Defense Department, the US Army Corps of Engineers trained Egyptian troops to use advanced technological equipment that measures ground fluctuations to indicate tunnel digging. In August 2013, the US Defense Department awarded the defense company Raytheon a $9.9 million contract to continue research and development in Egypt on its version of this technology, which is known as a laser radar vibration sensor.

The tunnels were first constructed immediately after Israel’s disengagement from the Sinai Peninsula, as part of the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt. But digging got more intense after Israel declared a blockade on Gaza after Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections. Hamas’s government started to flourish on what economists called the booming “tunnel economy” until current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi joined Israel in trying to destroy it.

In October 2014 Egypt announced that they planned to expand the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, following a terrorist attack from Gaza that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. The buffer was created “in a move meant to halt the passage of weapons and militants through cross-border smuggling tunnels but which also puts more pressure on the Palestinian militant Hamas group.” The buffer zone originally was 500 meters, following the announcement of the expanded buffer zone many residents voluntarily left the area. Ibrahim Mahlab the Prime Minister of Egypt announced that any residents unwilling to move willfully would be forcefully removed from their homes. Between July 2013 and August 2015, Egyptian authorities demolished at least 3,255 residential, commercial, administrative, and community buildings in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with the Gaza Strip, forcibly evicting thousands of people.

On 17 November, 2014, Egypt announced that the buffer zone would be doubling to 1 km due to the longer than expected tunnels discovered, in addition to a night time curfew for the area. On January 8, 2015, Egypt’s expansion resulted in the destruction of about 1,220 homes, while destroying more than 1,600 tunnels. Some tunnels discovered ranged over 1 kilometer long and contained lighting, ventilation and phone systems. In February 2015, in response to the buffer zone, ISIS beheaded 10 men they believed were spies for Mossad and the Egyptian Army. In June 2015 Egypt completed its digging of a ditch by the Rafah Crossings, 20 meters wide by 10 meters deep. (Source and more e.g: Wikipedia )

Over the past months Egyptian military bulldozers have also destroyed many Egyptian homes to create a buffer zone of at between 500 and 1,000 metres on the Egyptian side, and 1,000 metres. Entire neighborhoods have been flattened being gutted.

 

Egypt floods the rest of Gaza’s tunnels with seawater

According  MEE – Middle East Eye report Egyptian military vehicles are transferring Mediterranean Sea water to the Rafah border, to fill a newly-built crude canal, flooding and destroying the lifeline tunnels connecting Egypt and blockaded Gaza. By canal the Egyptian government is trying to economically crush Hamas, an ally of the Muslim brotherhood. Egypt is planning that sea water will flood into any remaining undiscovered tunnels and completely destroy them. Most tunnels are usually 20 meters deep, and can stretch for three hundred meters inside Egyptian Rafah. Israel also tried to fight Gaza’s tunnels by digging a canal and pumping sea water into the 14 km borderline with Egypt, but due to environmental damage and danger to natural aquifer water systems, it built a separation wall instead; deep into, and above, the ground.

Egyptian military personnel won’t speak openly of the nature of the project, but some local experts have said the aim is to create fish farms. Water pipes can be seen on the Egyptian side of the border-leading from the beach area into the west of the city, to an area filled with supply tunnels. A local water engineer said that pumping sea water into natural clean-water aquifers will increase salinity twenty-fold.

Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip September 18, 2015. | Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinians inspect the damage after Egyptian forces flooded smuggling tunnels dug beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip September 18, 2015. | Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Mayor of Rafah, Subhi Radwan believes this could lead to the forced migration of the local population. “The sea water is leaking into the clean aquifer, damaging the ground structure and pure water,” he said. Radwan said that drinking water, for the population, will not be available soon, as dirty salt water is pushed into the already damaged plumbing system of Gaza. “This will also deprive farmers of the ability to plant consumable vegetables and all forms of fresh plants which rely on clean aquifer waters,” the mayor added.

Economic analyst Moein Rajab told Al-Monitor that the pumping of salt water into the tunnels will affect agriculture and render farmlands unproductive as salt levels rise. As such, large tracts of Palestinian agricultural land that stretches along the Egyptian border will be made useless, leading to a marked decrease in agricultural production. Rajab added that soon after, the area’s inhabitants would be forced to leave as the topsoil is destabilized, further exacerbating the current Gaza Strip housing crisis. He explained, “Due to the fact that houses are so close to the border — mere hundreds of meters away — homes will become threatened with demolition or damaged to the point of being unlivable, with their foundations buckling as the earth liquefies. As a result, inhabitants will be forced to abandon their homes, which will add problems and further exacerbate the housing crisis engendered by the scarcity of building materials, blockade and pitiable economic situation.”

 

The Kerem Shalom crossing

Kerem Shalom in Israel is the main – and now practically only – border crossing to and from Gaza for goods (People are using more Erez crossing in Northern Gaza).   Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is part of the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) agency monitoring and reporting e.g. Gaza’s situation to international community. Its statistics show clearly where movement of commodities to and from Gaza take place. To the text frame below I have collected from OCHA reports the main points about import and export of Gaza through Israel on August 2015:

Gaza Import/Export, August 2015

Gaza Import/Export, August 2015

And here is wider picture of Gaza crossings in infographic:

Commodities Dashboard I

 

The Kerem Shalom crossing is relatively small and is not enough for the entry of all of Gaza’s needs. An average of 300 to a maximum of 700 trucks enter every day. To increase the truckloads of supplies that enter Gaza from Israel and speed up efforts to rebuild the territory, the Dutch government donated a new security scanner on July 2015. Some 1,000 trucks are expected to cross with the new scanner, according to COGAT and the Dutch Foreign Ministry. (Source. The Times of Israel )

 

My  conclusions

Hamas’ economic well-being was in large part dependent on its system of smuggling tunnels snaking underneath the Gaza border with Egypt. The supply lines that have fed it cash, arms, goods, luxury items, fuel, and cement for its terror-tunnel industry suddenly were gone. These goods, which were smuggled into Gaza at obscenely low prices at the expense of Egyptian citizens, were no longer flowing in due to the closure of the tunnels. The economy of Hamas is weakening as Egypt has closed main part of over one thousand smuggling tunnels on Gaza border; before that Hamas administration got remarkable income from smuggling activities.

Gaza’s isolation was imposed originally to delegitimize and undermine Hamas’ leadership. Palestinian Authority or better say Fatah was hoping to produce positive economic development in the West Bank which could lead Gazans to overturn Hamas rule. The opposite came true as Hamas’ control grew tighter. During last year there has been talks about national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. The Hamas-Israel dialogue is the last example that instead unity the split between Hamas and Fatah as well between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is even wider than before.

This situation can at best to lead long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Part of deal is lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip, less restriction for goods and people to go over border, importing goods to Gaza through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed). Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’ and beyond. (More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal )

EU claims that imaginary Gaza blockade is the reason for slow reconstruction in Gaza strip while the main reason is corruption and misuse of funds. (More e.g. in Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption ). Besides emergency relief the international community gives also huge donations for capacity building activities. One problem however is that the impact of the international assistance is poor if not even non-existent in relation to sustainable development. As The Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS) concluded “it has been almost impossible to trace any positive impact of these mobilized resources on the ground”. More about MAS analysis in Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks .

So called Gaza blockade or siege is one of the main causes or excuse – depending from viewpoint – for flotillas, BDS, EU’s labelling plans, anti-Semitism, donations to Hamas, humanitarian crisis etc. Given the facts referred above one could conclude that blaming Israel for blockade is at least unjust.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila

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Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

August 18, 2015

 

“This agreement is no longer just rumors or blabber, but will be signed any minute,” (Walid Awadh, a member of the political office of the Palestinian People’s Party in Gaza)

Israel-Palestine roadmap to peaceAccording to the Times of Israel, Hamas and Israel have essentially agreed on a long-term cease-fire. Hamas is about to sign a “comprehensive” agreement with Israel for the lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire The gist of the deal is that Israel will end the blockade and allow thousands of Palestinian day laborers to enter Israel. Gaza will import items through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed) and cease all rocket fire and tunneling for eight years. A prisoner swap may be in the works too.  Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’

Israel Prime Minister’s Office gave following statement on 18th Aug. 2015: “Israel would like to officially clarify that it is not holding any meetings with Hamas, neither directly, nor via other countries, nor via intermediaries.” However – in addition to rumours described in my April 2015 article  Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystanderhamas-agreement-1 (2) – the original sources of last developments have been a Turkish official, few days earlier, it was a “knowledgeable source” in the Israeli defense establishment and before that, it was a U.S. State Department official. All confirmed that Israel and Hamas are discussing a long-term cease-fire deal. Already in April it was estimated that official representatives of the Israeli government and defense establishment have been holding a real dialogue even months with the Islamic terrorist group – Hamas – in a bid to reach a long-term calm on the Gaza border. These secret talks have been “partly direct” and partly through Qatari and European mediators. This information was based on an YNet article.

In April 2015 it was claimed that from the Israeli side the person pushing for talks with Hamas is the coordinator of the government’s activities in the territories (COGAT), in cooperation with new IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot , with assistance from the political leadership. The official Israel continues to conceal the dialogue with Hamas: It would have disrupted the elections, it’s not good for the image of a right-wing government, and it gets in the way of continuing to define Hamas as a terror organization in the world. (Source and more in Ynet)

The Hamas-Israel Deal

In an interview- according The Times of Israel – with Hamas daily al-Resalah, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, said that Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal came to Ankara last week to update the Turkish leadership on the details of an agreement reached with Israel. According Israel Hayom [18th Aug. 2015] Hamas officials told Arab media outlets that significant progress had been made in recent talks in Qatar between Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and former Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair about the possibility of a long-term truce deal. Reports also cited a Turkish official as saying progress had been made toward such a deal between Israel and Hamas. According to the official, the deal would include the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. According to the reports, Gaza will be allowed to import merchandise through a “floating port” located 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) off the coast. An intermediary port will be established in Cyprus, where all Gaza-bound merchandise will be scrutinized by NATO representatives.

300px-gaza_strip_map2-svgMeanwhile, progress has been made in reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey yet differences remain on several issues, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday. The report quoted a Turkish Foreign Ministry official as saying that Israel had agreed to significantly ease the blockade on Gaza — which has been one of Turkey’s demands in the reconciliation talks.

According to Hamas daily al-Resalah, Israel would like to see a larger package deal that would include the exchange of “live and dead Israeli prisoners” held by Hamas — likely a reference to Ethiopian-Israeli citizen Avraham Abere Mengistu and a Bedouin man who both entered the Gaza Strip voluntarily, as well as the remains of Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer — in return for Hamas prisoners jailed by Israel.

Israeli Arabic-language website al-Masdar reported on 16th Aug. 2015 that Hamas’s leadership held a meeting in Gaza on 14th Aug. 2015, specifying the deal’s details. According to al-Masdar’s unnamed Hamas source, Israel has also agreed to allow in thousands of Gazan day laborers through the Erez crossing in return for Hamas’s agreement to stop launching rockets into Israel and digging subterranean attack tunnels underneath the border for a period of at least eight years. Hamas’s Shura Council, the movement’s highest deliberative body, endorsed the agreement following a three-hour debate.

Fatah/PLO against

The reported agreement is opposed by the PLO because it wasn’t consulted, and because it would “eventually detach Gaza completely from the West Bank and Jerusalem,” said one Fatah figure. Hamas officials, headed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, have been dispatched to Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey to discuss the deal. But the agreement is facing domestic opposition from without, as Palestinian factions consider it a potential danger to the political unity of Gaza and the West Bank as stipulated by the Oslo Accords.

no_solutionWalid Awadh, a member of the political office of the Palestinian People’s Party in Gaza, said that his party, like all other PLO factions, is opposed in principle to the deal reached between Hamas and Israel. The agreement, carried out unilaterally by Hamas without consulting the PA, strengthens the political divide with Fatah and will eventually detach Gaza completely from the West Bank and Jerusalem, he argued. “Gaza faces an unknown future,” he said. “This agreement leads us from political divide to [Gaza’s] secession, making it impossible for Gaza to be part of the future Palestinian state.”Awadh said the agreement is being finalized “far from the Gaza Strip” by Hamas’s overseas leadership in coordination with Qatar and Turkey. Notifying the PLO organizations in Gaza was only done in order to market the agreement and portray it as a result of local consensus. Most factions in Gaza support a ceasefire with Israel, Awadh stressed, but insist that it be the result of “unified Palestinian representation, tying the future of Gaza to that of the West Bank.”

Awadh’s dismay with Hamas was expressed even more bluntly by Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmi over the weekend. “Why insist on a naval passageway to the entire world but the West Bank?” Qawasmi wondered in a press statement published on Fatah’s official website. “Why has the land corridor with the West Bank, known as the ‘safe passage,’ not been proposed before anything else, given that the PLO delegation raised the issue forcefully? Is Gaza a humanitarian issue [only] or is it part of the Palestinian homeland?”

Two Palestine?

The eight-year split between Fatah and Hamas aka the Islamic Resistance Movement has cut off Gaza and its 1.7 million people from the West Bank and e.g from negotiating efforts; instead Hamas has implemented few military campaigns against Israel and Gaza still suffers from the last conflict Summer 2014.

According Jerusalem Post Hamas in April 2015 was negotiating with Israel on Palestinian state in Gaza. The Palestinian officials have claimed that Hamas was negotiating with Israel about its plan to turn the Gaza Strip into a separate Palestinian entity. From point of view of Fatah/PLO Israel wants to divide the Palestinian people and turn the Palestinian territories into separate entities and cantons. The idea of establishing a Palestinian state only in the Gaza Strip was first raised by late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1988; it is also claimed that the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed the idea about 10 years ago, when he decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is consolidating its grip over the Gaza Strip and making plans to turn it into a separate state. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah consider the purported plan a “severe blow” to the two-state solution and unity among Palestinians. As the U.S. Administration and the international community continue to push for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Hamas seems to be working toward establishing an independent state of its own in the Gaza Strip.

14374044578404767 (2)It might be that the international community must define their two-state solution with new content including two Palestinian state – one Islamist emirate in the Gaza Strip and an other Fatah-controlled wannabe state in the West Bank.

Earlier on April 2015 in my article Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander I estimated that this possible deal between Hamas and Israel has a risk that internal disagreements between Hamas’ political and military wings could endanger it. Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades might take advantage of instability within the Hamas to carry out attacks on the border with Israel without getting a green light from Hamas’ political leaders. Struggle inside Hamas is not the only battlefield in Gaza. A group calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem has continued to challenge the Gaza-ruling Palestinian entity Hamas.

Hamas-Israel Deal pave the way for Cold Peace Solution

23boundar_map-popup (2)I still consider a two-state solution be possible. The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings / agreement / plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try (both plans can be found from my document library ) If however it can’t be negotiated so there is possibilities to make regional solution; I for example have long propagated the idea of the “Three-State-(return) Option” ( e.g. in ”The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” ). Also – if two-state solution is de facto cul-de-sac and if there is no readiness to regional solution so a unilateral ‘Cold Peace solution’ from my perspective is the best option especially if Hamas-Israel Deal will come true.

Israel could independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations,  to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally. Creating a reality of two states for two peoples by separation into two nation states would be based on voluntary Israeli concession of territories outside of the large with Israel on the route of a permanent border on the basis of agreed-upon land swaps or independently in case negotiations does not take place. In the event that negotiations are not renewed, the temporary border will become permanent. As long as there is no agreement, the IDF and Israel would retain control of the outer borders and surrounding areas of the territories to be evacuated by Israelis who would be resettled within the state’s temporary borders. This kind of unilateral “cold peace” solution – that Israel annexes all Judea and Samaria (West-Bank) inside security fence and draws all outposts inside fence and Palestinians can do whatever they want in remaining territory – in my opinion might – in the course of years – develop to permanent state of affairs and thus end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  An example could be the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed in 1979 which most Egyptians view as a cold peace;  retrospectively not so bad deal anyway.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption

August 12, 2015


“Magen veLo Yera’e” [Motto of Shin Bet]

shin betIt was not a hallucination when Israelis living in Gaza border area were hearing some digging sounds. In July 2015 the Shin Bet [aka The Israel Security Agency/ISA aka Shabak] with Israeli Police arrested a Hamas operative Ibrahim Adel Shehadeh Shaer – a tunnel digger in the group’s armed wing. According Israel Hayom the man was detained for questioning and he proceeded to provide interrogators with valuable information about the terrorist organization’s extensive digging plans and the location of new tunnel access points. The Shin Bet said that Shaer provided significant details about Hamas’ tunnels in the Rafah area, including the areas where digging was taking place, the location of entrance and exit points to tunnels, the identities of other tunnel diggers and the routes of the tunnels.

Shaer also told interrogators that to sustain its military infrastructure, Hamas diverts resources and materials delivered to Gaza within the framework of rehabilitation efforts. According to Shaer, Hamas fighters store explosives in residential homes, in accordance with directives from the group’s commanders, who are concerned that traditional military warehouses will be bombed.

Tiimes-of-LondonThe Shin Bet said that beyond the routine issues pertaining to his main function as a tunnel digger, Shaer was also privy to the link between Iran and Hamas, in the form of military aid the Islamic republic transfers into Gaza to strengthen the terrorist organization. According to Shaer, Iran supports Hamas by transferring funds, advanced weapons systems and electronic equipment, such as devices for jamming radio waves, which are used in efforts to bring down Israeli drones flying over Gaza. In addition Shaer underwent combat and command training, learned how to operate advanced weapons systems and received demolition training. On July 31, an indictment was filed against Shaer in the Beersheba District Court for being a member of, and engaging in, activities with a banned organization, attempted murder, contact with a foreign enemy agent, illegal military training, and various firearms charges. Source: Israel Hayom

Slow reconstruction activities in Gaza is nothing new nor the fact that donor aid for reconstruction is misused e.g. for tunnels. This aspect was very well highlighted by Dr. Ibrahim Abrashin – ex-minister representing political wing in Hamas – in his recent article (more in Palestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity ) Today outrage spreads on social media due two documents leaked online detailing two attempts by Palestinian officials to misuse public funds, highlighting the corruption and mismanagement critics say remains rampant in the Palestinian Authority government. One document, by adviser to President Abbas, asks for $4 million for private building complex, another seeks funds for daughter’s private school. The core of comments is rampant corruption, mismanagement and nepotism in PA. Source: Israel Hayom ) A wider picture about non-existent skills of Palestinian authority to deliver international donor aid to beneficiaries one can find from my article Palestine – Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks

percap1

 

Some of my remarks related to news quoted above:

1)                         Shaer confirms suspicions made earlier that the donor aid for Gaza reconstruction activities is more or less used to dig [attack] tunnels. Western mainstream media has accused so far Israel and imaginary Gaza blockade about slow reconstruction process.

2)                         Hamas is still locating war materials in the middle of civilian buildings; if and when Israel during next Gaza conflict destroys these storages one can expect some civilian deaths and blaming only Israel for war crimes.

3)                         Despite of capasity building efforts for decades of Western international community to develop administration and facilities of dreamed Palestinian state is the outcome modest at best. In Western media many times Israel get the blame for this; a better address could be some inside aspects – such as corruption, misconduct and political elite making money at people’s expence – of Palestinian Authority.

4)                         As consequence tens of billions USD aid, which was intended to give good public services for people disappears on the way to beneficiaries.

5)                         The fact that Palestinian Authority can not make a negotiated peace deal with Israel might be caused by interests of the political elite of the PA and some donor agencies; chaotic situation has its benefits as the international aid flows with minimal transparency.

Appendix:

 

Palestinian Terrorism Industry: Salaries
 
The  Palestinian Authority [PA] pays high salaries and good benefits to convicted  terrorists in Israeli prisons. Much of money to reward terrorists comes from Western  tax dollars as the PA budget is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Donors gave  roughly $30 billion in international aid to the PA between 1993 and 2012; $7  billion came from the U.S. alone and $7 billion came from the EU; $10 billion
came from individual European countries, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
 
The  salaries are usually far higher than the West Bank average wage of $533/month  and sometimes higher than those of any other civil servants. The average  monthly salary paid to terrorists was 3,129 shekels ($850) in 2012 while the  average salary for civil servants was 2,882 shekels, ($783), and for  Palestinian military personnel it was 2,704 shekels ( $734).
 
In  2011, The PA announced the following wages and stipulated that they would be  linked to the cost of living index.
 
•All  security prisoners get a base salary of 1400 shekels ($400) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 3-5 years get 2,000 shekels ($560) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 5-10 years get 4,000 shekels ($1,100) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 10-15 years get 6,000 shekels ($1,690) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 15-20 years get 7,000 shekels ($2,000) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 20-25 years get 8,000 shekels ($2,250) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 25-30 years get 10,000 shekels ($2,800) per month.
•The  worst offenders, those who commit mass murder, get the top wage of 12,000  shekels ($3,400) per month—up to 10 times more than the average pay.
•Released  prisoners receive the status of a deputy minister or the rank of  major-general in the PA security forces – both worth a monthly stipend of NIS  14,000 ($4,000).
•In  2013, four thousand released Palestinian prisoners received monthly salaries  although many of them were able-bodied men who could work.
 

Palestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity

August 6, 2015

gatestone-logoPalestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity

by Khaled Abu Toameh
July 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • While many in the international community and media hold Israel fully responsible for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abrash offers a completely different perspective.
  • Referring to widespread corruption under the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, the former Palestinian minister reveals that Palestinian academic institutions, including universities and colleges, have become “commercial projects for granting certificates that have no scientific value or content.”
  • This is a voice that is rarely given a platform in mainstream media outlets in the West, whose journalists continue to focus almost entirely on stories that reflect negatively on Israel. Western journalists based in the Middle East tend to ignore Palestinians who are critical of the PA or Hamas, because such criticism does not fit the narrative according to which Israel is solely responsible for all the bad things that happen to the Palestinians.
  • Abrash’s criticism of Hamas and the PA — whom he openly holds responsible for the suffering of their people — actually reflects the widespread sentiment among Palestinians. Over the past few years, a growing number of Palestinians have come to realize that their leaders have failed them again and again and are now aware that both Hamas and the PA, as corrupt as ever, are hindering efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

It is almost unheard of for a prominent Palestinian figure to hold the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas equally responsible for corruption and abuse of power.

Dr. Ibrahim Abrash, a former Palestinian Minister of Culture from the Gaza Strip, recently surprised many Palestinians by publishing an article that included a scathing attack on both the PA and Hamas, holding them responsible for the continued suffering of their people.

In his article, Dr. Abrash also holds the two Palestinian parties responsible for the delay in rebuilding thousands of houses that were destroyed or damaged in the Gaza Strip during last year’s military conflict between Israel and Hamas. He points out that Hamas and the PA have been holding each other responsible for the suffering of Palestinians. “Sometimes, they also put all the blame on Israel for all that is happening in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Referring to the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which reached its peak with the violent takeover by Hamas of the entire Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, Dr. Abrash accused the two rival parties of exploiting their dispute to cover up corruption in vital sectors of Palestinian society.

“In light of the division [between the PA-controlled West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza], corruption and absence of accountability have become widespread,” Dr. Abrash wrote. “This division has led to the collapse of the political system and the system of values, and an increase in corruption. This has also allowed many opportunists and hypocrites to reach important positions, where they do anything they want without being held accountable.”

And while many in the international community and media continue to hold Israel fully responsible for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abrash offers a completely different perspective.

Noting that the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip have fallen victim to the power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, he says that no one today knows who is supposed to be helping the people living there.

“The interests of the people have been lost as result of the two parties’ rivalry,” Dr. Abrash said. “No one knows who is in charge of the people’s needs in the Gaza Strip — Hamas, which is the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip, or the Palestinian Authority and its national consensus government. Or is it UNRWA and the donors who are responsible? Or is it the sole responsibility of Israel as an occupation state? To whom should the people direct their complaints?”

Referring to widespread corruption under the PA in the West Bank, the former Palestinian minister reveals that Palestinian academic institutions, including universities and colleges, have become “commercial projects for granting certificates that have no scientific value or content.”

Dr. Abrash points out that no one knows whether universities and colleges in the Gaza Strip are subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Education in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

He also blasts the PA’s Ministry of Civilian Affairs for exploiting and extorting Palestinians who seek travel permits, especially those wishing to leave the Gaza Strip. He goes on to hold Hamas responsible for “harassing” Palestinians who wish to leave the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing (to Israel). Dr. Abrash claims that some Palestinians are forced to pay bribes to Palestinian officials to obtain a travel permit.

“Many people have been subjected to blackmail and procrastination [by Palestinian officials] after Israel eased travel restrictions at the Bet Hanoun [Erez] border crossing,” he said. “But the people are afraid to complain, out of fear that they would be denied travel permits in the future. What is happening at the border crossing has created favoritism and bribery.”

Dr. Abrash concludes his article with a rhetorical question: “Isn’t it shameful and irritating that while Israel has been issuing travel permits for those with special needs, some influential [Palestinian] officials are placing obstacles? Until when will they continue to manipulate and blackmail the people of the Gaza Strip?”

Dr. Abrash’s article represents a rare voice of sanity among Palestinians. This is a voice that does not blame all the miseries of Palestinians on Israel alone and holds the Palestinians leadership also responsible for the continued suffering of their people.

However, this is a voice that is rarely given a platform in mainstream media outlets in the West, whose journalists continue to focus almost entirely on stories that reflect negatively on Israel.

Western journalists based in the Middle East tend to ignore Palestinians who are critical of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. That is because such criticism does not fit the narrative according to which Israel is solely responsible for all the bad things that happen to the Palestinians.

Dr. Abrash’s criticism of Hamas and the PA — whom he openly holds responsible for the suffering of their people — actually reflects the widespread sentiment among Palestinians. Over the past few years, a growing number of Palestinians have come to realize that their leaders have failed them again and again. Today, many Palestinians are aware of the fact that both Hamas and the PA are responsible for hindering efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip and that the two parties are as corrupt as ever.

But when will the international community and media wake up and comprehend what many Palestinians came to understand years ago, namely that the real tragedy of the Palestinian people has been — and remains — bad and irresponsible leadership? Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as long as the world continues to see Israel as the villain.


Israeli-Palestinian Fears

August 4, 2015

Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) has published their quarterly research e.g. on levels of support for the two-state solution, (which is that support for the two-state solution has dropped to 51 per cent support in Israel and has stayed steady on 51 per cent support among Palestinians). However the really worrying results were related to fears of Israelis and Palestinians: As many as 56 per cent of Israelis are worried or very worried on a daily basis that they will be murdered by Arabs and 79 per cent of Palestinians are worried or very worried on a daily basis that they will be murdered or have their land confiscated by Jews.

psrlogoThe Palestinian sample size was 1200 adults interviewed face-to-face in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in 120 randomly selected locations between June 3 and 6, 2015. The margin of error is 3%. The Israeli sample includes 802 adult Israelis interviewed in Hebrew, Arabic or Russian between June 2 and 14, 2015. The margin of error is 3%. The poll was conducted jointly by the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the for Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. This joint survey was conducted with the support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Ramallah and Jerusalem.

These are the results:

MAIN FINDINGS

 (A) Conflict management and threat perceptions

  • Now, after forming a right wing government in Israel led by Benjamin Netanyahu, we asked both sides about their expectations for the future: 6% of the Israelis and 27% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will soon return to negotiations. 28% of the Israelis and 29% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will return to negotiations but some armed attacks will take place. 43% of the Israelis and 20% of the Palestinians think that some armed attacks will take place and the two sides will not return to negotiations. Finally, 8% of the Israelis and 18% of the Palestinians think that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no armed attacks. In December 2014, 32% of the Israelis and 37% of the Palestinians thought that the two sides will not return to negotiations and some armed attacks will take place and 8% of the Israelis and 10% of the Palestinians thought that the two sides will not return to negotiations and there will be no armed attacks.
  • Among Israelis, 56% are worried and 41% are not worried that they or their family may be harmed by Arabs in their daily life. Among Palestinians, 79% are worried and 21% are not worried that they or a member of their family could be hurt by Israel in their daily life or that their land would be confiscated or home demolished.
  • The level of threat on both sides regarding the aspirations of the other side in the long run is very high. 56% of Palestinians think that Israel’s goals are to extend its borders to cover all the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens, and 25% think the Israel’s goals are to annex the West Bank while denying political rights to the Palestinians. 43% of Israelis think that Palestinian’s aspirations in the long run are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population in Israel; 18% think the goals of the Palestinians are to conquer the State of Israel. Only 17% of the Palestinians think Israel’s aspirations in the long run are to withdraw from all (6%) or some (11%) of the territories occupied in 1967 after guaranteeing its security. 27% of Israelis think the aspirations of the Palestinians are to regain some (12%) or all (15%) of the territories conquered in 1967.
  • At the same time: 9% of the Israelis say the aspirations of Israel are to withdraw to the 1967 borders after guaranteeing Israel’s security. 33% say that Israel’s aspirations are to withdraw from parts of the territories after guaranteeing Israel’s security. 18% say that Israel’s aspirations are to annex the West Bank without granting political rights to the Palestinians living there. 14% say that these aspirations are to annex the West Bank and expel the Palestinians living there.
  • Among the Palestinians 38% say that the aspirations of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO are to regain some of the territories conquered in the 1967 war. 30% say the Palestinian aspirations are to regain all the territories conquered in the 1967 war. 13% say that the Palestinian aspirations are to conquer the State of Israel and regain control over the pre 1948 Palestine. 10% say that these aspirations are to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of the Jewish population in Israel.

 

PSR poll December 2014

PSR poll December 2014b[http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/505]

(B) Negotiation Tracks on the Agenda

The Saudi Plan

  • 21% of the Israelis and 52% of the Palestinians support the Saudi peace plan, 67% of the Israelis and 44% of the Palestinians oppose it. In December 2014, 27% of the Israelis and 43% of the Palestinians supported the Saudi peace plan, while 63% of the Israelis and 53% of the Palestinians opposed it. The plan calls for Arab recognition of and normalization of relations with Israel after it ends its occupation of Arab territories occupied in 1967 and after the establishment of a Palestinian state. The plan calls for Israeli retreat from all territories occupied in 1967 including Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. The refugee problem will be resolved through negotiations in a just and agreed upon manner and in accordance with UN resolution 194. In return, all Arab states will recognize Israel and its right to secure borders, will sign peace treaties with Israel and establish normal diplomatic relations.

The Israeli-Palestinian Track

  • Dismantling settlements – 38% of the Israelis support and 54% oppose the dismantling of most of the settlements in the West Bank as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
  • 51% of Israelis and 51% of Palestinians support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, known as the two-state solution and 43% of Israelis and 48% of Palestinians oppose it. In June 2014, 62% of the Israelis and 54% of the Palestinians supported this solution and 34% of the Israelis and 46% of the Palestinians opposed it. In December 2014, 58% of Israelis and 48% of Palestinians supported a two-state solution and 37% of Israelis and 51% of Palestinians opposed it.
  • Mutual Recognition – As we do periodically in our joint polls, we asked Israelis and Palestinians about their readiness for a mutual recognition as part of a permanent status agreement and after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. Our current poll shows that 44% of the Israeli public supports such a mutual recognition and 45% opposes it. Among Palestinians, 44% support and 54% oppose this step. In December 2014, 54% of the Israeli public supported such a mutual recognition and 36% opposed it. Among Palestinians, 39% supported and 60% opposed this step.

[Source: Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research ]

Palestinian Center Policy and Survey Research
PSR is an independent nonprofit institution and think tank of policy analysis and academic research. PSR was founded with the  goal of advancing scholarship and knowledge on immediate issues of concern to  Palestinians in three areas: domestic politics and government, strategic  analysis and foreign policy, and public opinion polls and survey  research.  PSR research units conduct and organize four types of activities: research and policy analysis,  empirical surveys and public opinion polls, task forces and study groups, and  meetings and conferences. The units focus on current public policy issuesn with a special reliance on empirical research as a tool to advancen scholarship and understanding.
 
PSR is dedicated to promoting objective andn nonpartisan research and analysis and to encouraging a better understanding  of Palestinian domestic and international environment in an atmosphere of  free debate and exchange of ideas. PSR is registered as a nonprofit  institution in the Palestinian Ministry of Justice.

Susya – Land-Grabbing By EU Backing

July 23, 2015

 

emergencyssxfoiThe huge ongoing campaign against the demolition of buildings [mostly tents] constructed against a court order in Susya village has been successful backed now by some NGOs, US, EU and UN. From Western mainstream media one easily can get picture that Israel plans to destroy ancient Arab village in occupied territory and grabbing land owned by local villagers. The true picture is a bit different, even opposite.

The question is not only some tents in Susya, besides media war the campaign is part of wider plan – known as “Fayyad Plan”, to occupy land for fictional Palestine state from Israel – land which is under direct Israeli control according the “Oslo Accords,” that incorporates within its terms UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), which set the basic terms for comprehensive peace in the area. The case also shows an excellent example about the hypocrisy of European Union which same time plans sanctions against Israel due illegal Israeli settlements while continuously financing illegal Arab settlements.

 

Susya vs. Fake Susya

European Union-American acceptance of the lie of “Arab Susiya” is both a result from a successful PR campaign and against the reality. The archaeological evidence clearly proves that Jews lived in Biblical and Talmudic times until as late as the 9th century in Susya, while academic researchers have categorically established that Arabs never lived there. Modern are aerial photographs decades ago show that not one Arab lived in Susiya, for centuries, only a few thousand Arabs populated the relatively vast southern Hebron Hills and other Arabs came from the Hebron area to stay in caves for two months during the season for planting and reaping wheat or to grave sheep and goats; other than that, Arabs were never to be seen because their homes were elsewhere. All of that changed soon after the early 1980s when the Jews returned after 1,500 years.

The focus of the creation of this lie has been Susiya, the largest Jewish community in the area, although less than 200 families live there. It is located several hundred yards from the Talmudic city, which is protected as a natural park. The European Union – i.a. – have invested tens of thousands of dollars to bring Arabs to the narrow stretch of land separating modern and ancient Susiya.

Local resident Karni Eldad describes this side of settlement activities in i24news as follows:

Everybody knows that the settlements beyond the Green Line receive extensive subsidies and incentives. For example, a small community south of Hebron receives wind turbines to produce free electricity, it gets free mobile homes, free air conditioners, free toilets, free water tanks, a free library, free agricultural sheds, a free mobile clinic and free health care, and even basic food items, completely for free. Oh yeah, and a free mosque. Why a mosque? Because this settlement is an illegal Palestinian outpost, established in Israeli territory (Area C according to the Oslo Accord’s territorial division), and is located near the Jewish settlement of Susya in the southern Hebron hills. Who finances it? The EU, of course.

Below short video about the real ancient history and origins of Susya:

 

And below the Illegal Palestinian Settlement – fictional Arab village – of Susya:

cc711ccf3f2ea47dd15feddae2ecdb533c0b7e69

Earlier about Susya case in Demolition of Susya Settlement as a Result Unsolved Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

 

Susya as part of “Fayyad Plan”

After the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, and especially since 2009, Palestinians began to establish outposts in Area C with massive European funding. These outposts are designed to interrupt the continuity of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. This program is called the “Fayyad Plan”, named after Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian official who conceived it. The Europeans, for their part, are joining the initiative as they consider Judea and Samaria occupied territory and are working to establish a Palestinian state in the entire territory.

The so-called “Fayyad Plan” entitled “Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State,” is breathlessly ambitious. Fayyad, a US-educated economist and former senior World Bank official, challenged the Palestinian policy of liberation through armed struggle by proposing peaceful, proactive development. The plan had and still has US and EU support and has got aid in the billions. Also Israel has backed Palestinian economic development and reform from bottom up to establish a demilitarised state.

endoccThe Fayyad Plan includes 3 major pillars – 1. Structural reform of the central and local government administration. 2. Restoring and re-establishing the security system (Palestinian Police, courts, prisons, etc.). 3. Building the economic and physical infrastructure in all areas, (banks, public and educational facilities, electricity, water, sewage and roads etc.) whilst focusing on Area C.

In her analysis about “Fayyad Plan”, The Fayyad Plan: Implications for the State of Israel , Natalia Simanovsky describes the benefits of plan as follows:

In evaluating the successes of the Fayyad plan, addressing its obstacles and Israeli misapprehensions, this paper argues that the creation of an independent Palestinian state will work towards Israel’s advantage for the following reasons: First, it guarantees the two-state solution, ensuring that the State of Israel remains Jewish and democratic. Second, Israel’s responsibility towards the Palestinians will be dramatically reduced, for a Palestinian state would become responsible for its own citizens, territory and borders. Third, an independent Palestine will improve Israel’s serious legitimacy problem, for the relationship will be that of two sovereign states, as opposed to the current asymmetrical relationship between a state and a non-state. Fourth, a Palestinian state will strengthen the hand of the moderates, namely Fateh and Fayyad, while weakening the terrorist organization Hamas and other Islamic radicals. Finally, the environment for peace negotiations will improve, as Israel’s security needs will be met and the Palestinians, having achieved their decades-long desire for self-determination, will be negotiating from a place of pride and accomplishment, as opposed to the hopelessness and humiliation that engulfs them on a daily basis.

 

However the “Fayyad Plan leaves a number of issues unresolved, such as Jerusalem, the right of return, borders, the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and, lastly, Gaza. The essence of the Fayyad plan was to build the apparatus of a Palestinian state within two years, regardless of progress in the stalled peace negotiations with Israel. Israeli officials reacted with consternation over what they saw as a unilateral action even Fayyad has rejected calls for a binational state and unilateral declaration of statehood.

The core negative aspect of the plan is, in my opinion, that it Fayyad calls for massive Palestinian development in Area C – an area in which is under direct Israeli control – the Palestinian Authority exercises civil powers and responsibilities as well as functional jurisdiction under the umbrella of overall Israeli security and civil administration – the fate of which is intended by the Interim Agreement to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations.

See more at: Palestine Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State (Fayyad Plan) http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/A013B65A5984E671852576B800581931#sthash.Wwzi9pgP.dpuf

 

Quiet annexation with help of EU hypocrisy

“Aid to the Bedouin” is a political program of the Palestinian Authority that was in conjunction with  the previous PM Salam Fayyad,  which intends to gradually  take control  over Area C, and to add it into the area  of the Palestinian Authority (PA).  In addition the EU is building hundreds of illegal structures in the West Bank, for example near Ma’aleh Adumim and its E1 area (great Jerusalem). Some of the structures are even being built on nature reserves, where construction is forbidden. All these buildings contravene the Oslo Accords, which give Israel full administrative responsibility and authority over Area C so the EU is participating in a violation of the Oslo II Agreement.

Transarent-Logo-e1361793675969Israeli NGO Regavim has been very active with gathering data and conducting field surveys especially in Negev, Judea and Samaria. Regavim recently released a report revealing that the European Union has spent millions of dollars actively erecting some 500 unauthorized pre-fabricated buildings in strategic areas located in Area C in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) in violation of the Oslo Accords. These reports are exposing very cleartThe hypocrisy of the European Union. Blaming Israel for taking unilateral steps, whilst simultaneously being directly, deeply and heavily involved in illegal and unilateral activity to the benefit of the Palestinian Authority. According Regavim in recent years, European support has moved from passive diplomatic and financial assistance to a situation of active cooperation in illegal building which the Palestinian Authority has been advancing unilaterally since 2009, as part of its strategic plan to create a Palestinian state de facto, while avoiding the need for negotiations with Israel. One of the central goals of this plan is the development of building initiatives specifically in Area C, (which is defined by the Oslo Accords as under full Israeli control) with the intent of chipping away at this area bit by bit, and thus creating a strip of territory between the area of Hebron, Samaria, and Jericho. This strip would endanger the security of the State of Israel and its ability to defend itself within defensible borders.

According Regavim reports in September 2012, the European Union announced the allocation of 100 million euros toward the advancement of projects for the Arab population across Area C, which is under full Israeli control (— in addition to the 100 million euros transferred in 2011). The first paragraph in the document detailing the allocation of the funds indicates an earmarked transfer of 7 million euros (in 2012 alone) for “development of land and basic infrastructures in Area C, See an example of EU funding decision here . The September 2014 EU document indicates an additional – earmarked – funding allocation (apart from the regular annual aid), in the sum of 11 million euros, intended for establishing outposts (“shepherds’ communities”) in Area C.

Nimetön (27)While unilateral measures of the PA are encouraged, promoted and funded by the European Union against Israeli law, the Oslo accords etc., its leaders criticize the State of Israel, accusing it of taking unilateral steps. For example the EU threatens sanctions against Israel, should Israel promote programs that constitute “measures to prevent the two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity”.

More in: Report of the Involvement of the European Union Il-Legal Building

 

Part of BDS

According DEBKAfile the new proposals published on 22nd July 2015 by the European Council for Foreign relations [ECFR, a pan-European think tank with offices in seven European capitals] go beyond labeling Israeli goods made in “settlements” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (for boycotting) – to include Israeli banks. Its boycott would cover bank loans and mortgages, qualifications earned in settlement institutions and the tax-exempt status of European charities that deal with Israeli settlements. Under European Commission guidelines from 2013, EU- and member-state-funded lending cannot be provided to Israeli businesses and individuals operating in the occupied territories. In addition the report questions whether Europe should accept qualifications from academic, medical and other Israeli institutions based in the West Bank. Likewise, there is a question mark over whether the EU should be dealing with Israeli institutions – such as the Ministry of Justice and the national police headquarters – which are based in East Jerusalem.

Nimetön (26)The Israeli government has described Europe’s steps on labeling as discriminatory and wrong-headed, suggesting they are akin to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which Israel regards as anti-Semitic. News of the report’s publication caused Tel Aviv Stock Exchange banking stocks to fall 2-2.5 pc.

Earlier [on April 2015] 16 of the European Union’s (EU) 28 foreign ministers co-signed a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, urging her to advance the creation of guidelines to separately label goods produced in the West Bank as part of an economic offensive on Israel. The labeling plan was first mooted in 2012, but the 16 member states told EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini it was now time to press ahead as part of efforts to force Israel to divide in a “two state solution.” (More in Top Priority of EU Foreign Policy: A New ‘Jude’ Badge )

My conclusion

The only valid and legally binding framework that has governed, and continues to govern, the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians is still the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (1995), with its related documents, commonly termed the “Oslo Accords,” that envelopes all the other agreements and arrangements between the two sides and incorporates within its terms UN Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), which set the basic terms for comprehensive peace in the area.

Under the Oslo accords, the West Bank was divided into three zones, A, B and C, pending a permanent peace deal. Area C, where Israel maintains security and civil control, compromises more than 60% of West Bank territory. It includes the Jordan Valley where Israel has transformed the desert flats into lucrative agri-business settlements, west of the no-go military zone of border patrols and electronic fences on the frontier with Jordan.

The Susya region lies in Zone C, the archaeological evidence clearly proves Jewish ancient ties to area in question while Arab ties are only recent and temporary; land-grabbing with international campaign tries to grab land from Jews to Arabs and not opposite . The Susya case is not question about human rights, its is about politics to make solutions on the ground instead of negotiations.

I_stand_with_Israel_by_ElNino1920

 


Demolition of Susya Settlement as a Result Unsolved Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

July 19, 2015

Susya (Arabic: سوسية‎, Hebrew: סוּסְיָא) is the site of an ancient Jewish village in the southern Judaean Mountains south of Hevron, on the road towards Be’er Sheva, a Palestinian village claimed established by the 1830s and a religious communal Israeli settlement under the jurisdiction of Har Hebron Regional Council established in 1983. The Susya region lies in Zone C according the Oslo Agreements where the West Bank was divided in Area A (18% of the West Bank territory under PA – Palestinian Authority), B (22% under Palestinian civilian control) and C (60% under direct Israeli control).

Moldiv_1436981142133The Israeli Supreme Court has given the green light for the demolition of 80 illegal structures in Arab Susya. On Thursday [16th July 2015] demolition orders were distributed to the Arab squatters. Arab Susya was built adjacent to the Jewish community of Susya that was established in 1983. Problematically, the Arab town was built on the archaeological site of ancient Susya, a Jewish village from the Temple Period.

According Arutz Sheva newsportal US State Department spokesperson John Kirby delivered a terse statement against Israel at a press briefing on 16th July 2015, incredibly ordering the Jewish state not to demolish illegal structures built by Arab squatters on an ancient Jewish village. After an Arab journalist asked about reports that Israel may carry out the demolition soon, Kirby said the State Department is “closely following developments”.

“We strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village,” warned Kirby. “Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes, would be harmful and provocative. Such actions have an impact beyond those individuals and families who are evicted…[the demolition may] “worsen the atmosphere for a peaceful resolution and would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation particularly given settlement-related activity in the area.”


According Arutz Sheva Kirby clearly was reading a typed answer to the question, whereas in his other answers he spoke in his own words without a pre-scripted message. This fact would appear to indicate both the strong intentions expressed in the statement, as well as how the State Department was planning to address the issue – and possibly pre-arranged for the question to be asked.

susyaThe “Palestinian village” Kirby took such pains to defend was in fact built adjacent to the Jewish community of Susya which was established in 1983. Problematically, the Arab town was built on the archaeological site of ancient Susya, a Jewish village from the Temple Period. The position on an illegal Arab settlement is particularly hypocritical given the State Department’s vocal condemnation of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, labeling them as “illegal settlements” and urging their demolition – despite the 2012 Levy Report‘s finding that the Jewish presence in the region is legal according to international law. [Lähde: Arutz Sheva ]

While Arab squatters have claimed an Arab historical connection to the site, historical documents have thoroughly debunked that claim, showing how the Arab village is a very recent phenomenon whereas the ancient Jewish connection to the site is established in the records. Tzviki Bar-Hai, then head of the Har Hevron regional council, told Arutz Sheva in late 2013 that the Arab presence in Susya is very recent. “I was there in 1976, and aside from the synagogue that was built here in 1969, there wasn’t a living soul,” he recalled. “We were able to restart the archaeological digs in 1983, and then, too, there were no Palestinians around.” He noted how Arab farmers began to visit Susya for one or two nights at a time during certain parts of the year starting in 1986, revealing that those now claiming to be residents of Susya are actually from the nearby Arab town of Yatta.
map, susya, israel
The researcher and Jerusalem Post journalist Dr. Seth J. Frantzman, carried out his Ph.D. research at the Hebrew University, using Israel State Archives and the map archives of the Hebrew University and National Library as well as at the aerial photo archive of the Hebrew University’s Geography department, on the foundation, expansion and development of Arab villages in the 19th and early 20th century, tracing how some villages expanded and gave birth to “daughter villages”. Dr. Frantzman notes that he did not come across any village, hamlet or settlement at Susya. He did identify several other villages that were founded in the 1940s, which Professor David Grossman of the Department of Geography at Bar Ilan Unversity has also written about. For example, the village Rahiya, near Yatta, was founded in the late 19th century or early 20th century. Yet there is no evidence, however, from records examined at Ben Gurion University from the Ottoman Empire period or British mandate period, of any village or settlement ever existing at Susya. The Palestine Exploration Fund, which carried out a thorough and widely respected survey of the country from 1871-77 did not show any village or settlement in the area of Susya. Instead they noted only the ruins of ancient Susya, which was a Jewish town from the Temple period with a synagogue facing Jerusalem, ritual bath and other artifacts. [Source: Arutz Sheva ]

ancient Susya, Israel

The case of Susya is one example of problems with outposts and settlements of Arab side (Arabs from PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, and by Bedouin Arabs in the Negev). The Arabs do not seek permits, and set up whole towns, which in some cases have grown to be small cities. The outposts are built on state land, often on land used by the IDF for training, and as a result the army is forced to adjust its exercises, jeopardizing the security of Israelis. In addition, the outposts are not hooked up to sewage systems, and raw Arab sewage is often dumped in environmentally sensitive areas, ruining the ecology of many areas. In many cases, the Arabs refuse to request permits for their outposts, refusing to recognize the authority of the state, and avoiding paying for development and infrastructure costs. As an illegal outpost, the Arab settlement does not have a development plan even in some cases they are working with that kind of plan in the hope of retroactively legalizing the site.

In addition – according The Jerusalem Post – the EU is building hundreds of illegal structures in the West Bank, which the government has not removed in order to avoid a diplomatic tangle with the Europeans. The structures are being built near Ma’aleh Adumim and its E1 area, some of the structures are even being built on nature reserves, where construction is forbidden.  These buildings contravene the Oslo Accords, which give Israel full administrative responsibility and authority over Area C so the EU is participating in a violation of the Oslo II Agreement.

Susya is also example of problems due unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The legal procedures are more clear e.g. in Negev (inside 1967 cease-fire line) than in Areas A, B or C in Samaria and Judea where different civil laws and military rules are prevailing.

Israel areas A, B and C map

 

 

 


What’s Going On In Gaza (And Mideast Peace)

May 6, 2015

 “They [Hamas] claim that they protect those people, but by Allah, they have nothing to do with our Muslim people in Palestine.” (ISIS video after beheading Palestinians in Yarmouk)

Earlier in my article Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander I described how official representatives of the Israeli government and defense establishment have been holding a real dialogue with the Islamic terrorist group – Hamas – in a bid to reach a long-term calm on the Gaza border. This possible deal between Hamas and Israel has a risk that internal disagreements between Hamas’ political and military wings could endanger it. Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades might take advantage of instability within the Hamas to carry out attacks on the border with Israel without getting a green light from Hamas’ political leaders.

Untitled-1294Struggle inside Hamas is not the only battlefield in Gaza. A group calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem has continued to challenge the Gaza-ruling Palestinian entity Hamas. Now during last weeks there has been increasing tensions between Hamas and sc Islamic State (IS). After Isis beheaded several Palestinians, including a senior Hamas official, inside the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria in April 2015, the Palestinian Intelligence agency, Palestinian Authority and Hamas, swore that it would avenge the killing of their personnel. Since then Hamas has arrested several prominent Islamic State preachers from Gaza. According to Isis sources on social media, Hamas has arrested at least 40 “Salafi Mujahideen”.

According Foreign Policy Hamas implemented demolishing a Salafist mosque in Deir el-Balah took place on Sunday [3rd May 2025]. The mosque had been frequented by supporters of the salafi jihadi group, which is called Ansar al-Dawleh al-Islamiyeh (Supporters of the Islamic State ). Hamas did not comment on the charges. However, sources close to Hamas denied the charges, saying the structure that was bulldozed was not a mosque but an office that served as a meeting place for the jihadists. Seven men, including a local Salafist Sheikh Yasser Abu Houli, were arrested during the demolition of Mosque Almtahabin.

In its statement, Isis said that it would kill Hamas personnel one by one as it knows the names and addresses of all the officers working for the Palestinian Intelligence agency. Isis in Gaza also alleged that Hamas was working for the Israeli forces. Isis gave Hamas 72 hours to release Salafist Sheikh. ” If Hamas doesn’t release a detained Salafist sheikh, IS threat of “dire consequences.

After thread a bomb blast targeted Hamas’ security headquarters in Gaza City Monday [4th May 2015] and the blast did damage to one of the militant group’s security walls. The bomb did not result in any casualties in the northwestern Gaza Hamas headquarters. Hamas has deployed masked militants throughout the fundamentalist neighborhoods in central and south Gaza, hoping to dissuade rival jihadis from conducting any further attacks. A spokesman for Hamas told the AP that “slight violations take place from time to time and the security services follow them.”

According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip reject IS – 86% of which say the terrorist organization “does not represent true Islam.” (Source: JPost )

Dead Mideast peace process

1649425730Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations stopped as [on 23rd April 2014] Fatah and Hamas announced a new reconciliation agreement which would see a unity government formed within five weeks, ahead of a presidential and parliamentary election within six months. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the reconciliation deal did not contradict their commitment to peace with Israel on the basis of a two-state solution. Israel disagreed.

However in the midst of negotiations to resolve the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, the Shin Bet revealed an alleged plot by Hamas to depose Fatah rule in the West Bank. This would be achieved by deploying Hamas cells around the West Bank to incite a third intifada and overwhelm Palestinian Authority forces. More than 90 people were arrested. President Abbas said the plot was “a grave threat to the unity of the Palestinian people and its future.” After this the PA has taken a series of unilateral steps to achieve statehood without moving towards peace with Israel, including a failed bid for UN recognition and a successful attempt to accede to the International Criminal Court.

Also Israel-U.S. relationship reach the nadir

enemiesAccording United with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down a proposed visit from US Secretary of State John Kerry following the Israeli elections, saying it would be better to visit after a government coalition is formed. The purpose of the visit may have been to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, pundits say. The report came from Israel’s Channel 2 news station. Correspondent Udi Segal suggested that Kerry was seeking reassurances that Israel was willing to move forward on negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. During his campaign, Netanyahu said that there would be no Palestinian state created on his watch. He later clarified that he meant that current conditions were not right for the creation of a Palestinian state.

The Israeli leader’s opposition to focusing at this time on negotiations with the Palestinians, together with strong disagreements between Jerusalem and US President Barack Obama over the Iranian nuclear issue, led the White House to publicly excoriate Netanyahu. Obama said that the US “needs to rethink our approach” towards relations with Israel. US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power clarified that this could include putting forward anti-Israel resolutions at the UN Security Council. On the Iranian issue, Obama will not meet with Netanyahu in person until a final nuclear agreement is reached, and Kerry dismissed Israeli concerns about the deal as “hysteria.”

There have also been intimations that the Obama administration interfered in the Israeli elections. The US Senate is currently investigating whether the State Department provided funding to the Victory 15 campaign, whose sole goal was to unseat Netanyahu.

 

Related article :

Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

7a527-science-vs-religion


Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

April 30, 2015

 

For several weeks or even three months now, official representatives of the Israeli government and defense establishment have been holding a real dialogue with the Islamic terrorist group – Hamas – in a bid to reach a long-term calm on the Gaza border. These secret talks have been “partly direct” and partly through Qatari and European mediators. (Source e.g. YNet ) There has been rumours about this dialogue and both parties have so far denied them, for example a senior Hamas official said earlier that group does not conduct any negotiations with Israel; “We negotiate with the occupation only through the rifle.”

Gaza2However now Hamas official Ahmed Yousef confirmed to Maan News that Hamas is having “chats” with Israel through mediators but denied direct contacts. Yousef told Ma’an that “we await the formation of an Israeli government so things can get more serious. European diplomats and civil society activists come to the Gaza Strip constantly and pose Israeli viewpoints and convey the reaction of the movement through unofficial chats.”

While both sides are preparing for next Gaza war, estimated start in one year or even this coming Summer, there is slight chance that Hamas and Israel can broke a deal as the war would not benefit either side. If so the outcome might be a longer calm period or even a Gaza state, while Fatah led Palestinian authority on West Bank will stay as bystander or try to build its own state with their unitary actions.

Hamas-Israel Dialogue in progress

It was reported in The Times of Israel that Hamas offers long-term calm in exchange for end of blockade. Senior Hamas officials met with Western diplomats about the ceasefire, and also reached a number of understandings about the character of the ceasefire. During the talks, Hamas officials emphasized that they were willing to agree on a ceasefire of at least five years (though some sources said the offer was for 15 years), during which time all military activities “above and below ground” from both parties would end. At the same time, the blockade on Gaza would be removed, including restrictions on exports, and Israel would allow the construction of a seaport and an airport.

An Israeli official confirmed that the offer was presented to Israeli officials.

In conversations with other diplomats, Hamas presented different terms for a ceasefire with Israel. One of the draft agreements reached The Times of Israel, with the following clauses:

1) All forms of military conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will cease.

2) Israel will commit to removing the blockade on Gaza, including: opening all crossings around Gaza; permitting unfettered import and export from Gaza; allowing the construction of a sea and airport.

3) The tahdiyya [ceasefire, AR] will last between three and five years starting from the moment the agreement is signed, but the two sides will finalize the exact length of the ceasefire.

Earlier there was unconfirmed rumour that three months before the elections, Israel received a concrete and detailed proposal from Hamas for an agreement on a calm period of five to 10 years. The official Israel did not respond but both sides’ interests dictate cooperation without formal decisions in the government. And now this cooperation is changing Israel’s strategy towards Hamas and same time bypassing the Palestinian Authority.

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Israeli side it has confirmed a report that Israel had received a concrete and detailed proposal from Hamas for a truce of five to 10 years. Explaining the Israeli rationale, Ynet quotes defense establishment officials believe that the absence of a dialogue that will help ease the living conditions in Gaza will lead an armed conflict in the summer, and Operation Protective Edge will be perceived as a colossal failure. The person pushing for talks with Hamas is the coordinator of the government’s activities in the territories (COGAT), in cooperation with new IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot , with assistance from the political leadership. The official Israel continues to conceal the dialogue with Hamas: It would have disrupted the elections, it’s not good for the image of a right-wing government, and it gets in the way of continuing to define Hamas as a terror organization in the world. (Source and more in Ynet)

 

Palestinian Authority – West Bank remains bystander

According Jerusalem Post Hamas is negotiating with Israel on Palestinian state in Gaza. The Palestinian officials have claimed that Hamas was negotiating with Israel about its plan to turn the Gaza Strip into a separate Palestinian entity. Mahmoud Habbash, the chief Palestinian Authority religious judge, who also serves as PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on religious affairs, said that Hamas’ “plan” to create a separate entity in the Gaza Strip was a “dangerous Israeli conspiracy.” Habbash claimed that the Israeli “conspiracy” envisages the total separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. “Israel wants to divide the Palestinian people and turn the Palestinian territories into separate entities and cantons,” he said.

imagesUFO2G8JXKayed al-Ghul, a senior official with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said that the idea of establishing a Palestinian state only in the Gaza Strip was first raised by late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1988. Al-Ghul warned that the “plan” would have serious repercussions for the Palestinians. Ahmed Majdalani of the Popular Struggle Front, another PLO faction, accused Hamas of working toward establishing an “Islamic emirate” in the Gaza Strip. “There will be no Palestinian state without the Gaza Strip,” he said. He claimed that the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed the idea about 10 years ago, when he decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Another PLO official, Wasel Abu Yusef, warned that Hamas’ effort to create an “Islamic emirate” in the Gaza Strip would hinder the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and solidify divisions among the Palestinians. He urged Palestinians to work toward scuttling Hamas’ alleged scheme. Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf claimed that Israel and Hamas have already reached understandings regarding the separate state in the Gaza Strip. “This is an Israeli plot designed to eliminate the Palestinian cause,” he argued. “What is the price that Hamas will pay to Israel in return for allowing the movement to establish its mini-state in the Gaza Strip?” (Source Jerusalem Post )

 

Preparations ongoing for the next war

Despite dialogue both sides are preparing themselves for the next war. Hamas is intensively rebuilding its terror tunnel infrastructure, that were used to attack Israelis during previous war, with the digging reportedly taking place six days a week with three shifts each day. Over 1,000 diggers are said to be employed by Hamas to construct the tunnels, and the current estimation is that the tunnels lead up to Israeli territory – Hamas will extend them beyond when it feels the time is right to strike.

Shujaiya-3-300x268Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph. It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighborhoods in Israel during the war, code-named Operation Protective Edge by Israel. (Source: i24news )

From the opposite side the Israeli military is actually training for the reconquering of the entire Gaza Strip next time a confrontation flares up between the two sides. A new tunnel detection system developed by Elbit Systems will protect Israeli citizens from the threat of infiltration by Hamas terrorists. Now, after two months of development, the Israel-based international defense electronics company says that they have created an effective system which uses sensors to detect tunnel building activity. The system will be implemented along the entire Israel-Gaza border, Elbit said. The system includes a series of sensors. The information they receive is analyzed using a control system based on algorithms. This method enables the precise identification of tunnel building and its location without false alarms. The system is the first of its kind in the world and was developed in Israel in record time by the Director of Research and Development in the Defense Ministry in cooperation with Israeli industries. (YNetNews )

The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah group, Iran’s Lebanese surrogate, has clearly taken a leaf out of its Palestinian ally, Hamas’ book, for a fully mobilized terror tunnel project against northern Israel. Its manpower, including engineering units, is working under the guidance of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers to sink a large network of tunnels leading under the border into Galilee. They are working efficiently and at top speed with the aid of modern Western-made earthmoving equipment and foreign professionals paid top dollar to manage the project. Debkafile

 

A Hamas State of Palestine in Gaza?

Hamas is consolidating its grip over the Gaza Strip and making plans to turn it into a separate state. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah consider the purported plan a “severe blow” to the two-state solution and unity among Palestinians. As the U.S. Administration and the international community continue to push for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Hamas seems to be working toward establishing an independent state of its own in the Gaza Strip. In recent weeks, reports have surfaced in a number of Arab and Western media outlets to the effect that Hamas leaders have decided to establish a “higher committee” for managing the affairs of the Gaza Strip.

300px-Gaza_Strip_map2.svgMahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, last week confirmed that his movement was working toward turning the Gaza Strip into an independent state. “There is nothing wrong or shameful about labeling the current situation in the Gaza Strip an authority or administration,” Zahar said. “If we establish an emirate or state in the Gaza Strip or in any part of Palestine, this would not mean that we are prepared to give up one inch of Palestine.” (Source: Gatestone Institute )

 

The bottom line

During last year there has been talks about national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. The Hamas-Israel dialogue is the last example that instead unity the split between Hamas and Fatah as well between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is even wider than before. It might be that the international community must define their two-state solution with new content including two Palestinian state – one Islamist emirate in the Gaza Strip and an other Fatah-controlled state in the West Bank.

Related to possible deal between Hamas and Israel there is a risk that internal disagreements between Hamas’ political and military wings could endanger it. The rift within Hamas is widening amid disagreement over several issue: First the organization’s position on the recent turmoil in the Arab world, specifically over its stance on a Saudi-led coalition against Yemen’s Huthi group and second Hamas’ policy in Gaza concerning the confrontation with Israel and the deterioration of ties with Egypt. Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades might take advantage of this instability within the organization to carry out attacks on the border with Israel without getting a green light from Hamas’ political leaders.

 

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Earlier related to Hamas e.g:

Fatah-Hamas Accord can be more an Opportunity than an Obstacle

Analysis: 2014 Gaza Conflict

Peculiarities of Operation Protective Edge

Reality Check Time of Mideast Peace Process

Hamas’ Miscalculation: Israel Started Operation Pillar of Defense

Fatah-Hamas Deal: Three Scenarios

Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror?


Battlefield Yemen – Democracies In Action

March 29, 2015

“If there the offensive develops to be a ground invasion, the Yemenis will prove that their country is the invaders’ graveyard,” (Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi)

On Wednesday (25 Mar. 2015), Saudi Arabia announced a launch of a military operation against the Houthis, who currently control large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sanaa. Saudi attack is targeting Shiite Houthi rebels who are embroiled in a vicious civil war with the majority-Sunni-run Yemeni Government. Houthi militants have reportedly captured large stocks of weaponry from Yemen military sites. Saudi Arabia has reportedly deployed 100 fighter aircraft and 150,000 troops for the operation, Saudi allies have promised at least 100 fighter aircrafts more and U.S. logistical and intelligence support.

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The blatant invasion of Yemen’s sovereignty by the Saudi government comes against a backdrop of total silence on the part of international bodies, especially the United Nations. The world body has so far failed to show any reaction whatsoever to the violation of the sovereignty of one of its members by Riyadh. Yemen is the last example about the hypocrisy of Western powers especially if the case is compared to reactions related to Ukraine.

Background

Yemen has a population some 25 million and, located at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula , bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, Oman to the east, Red Sea to the west and Gulf of Aden to the south. The Republic of Yemen was created in 1990 when North and South Yemen united. 53% of the Muslim population is Sunni and 47% is Shi’a. Among Yemen’s natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites.

_81933609_yemen_houthi_controll_624_v7Instability and large-scale displacement, as well as weak governance, corruption, resource depletion and poor infrastructure, have hindered development in the poorest country in the Middle East. Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East.

During last years in Yemen has been fighting between the state and the Houthis in the north; separatist unrest in the south; frequent attacks by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); and power struggles between tribal and military factions. By 2009, Saudi Arabia had joined the Yemeni army in attacking Saada – the Houthis’ stronghold – just across its southern border. In 2010 a joint Saudi-Yemeni military campaign was going on in the country’s war-weary north where Sana’a and Riyadh forces were engaged in a fierce fighting against the Houthi fighters.

The Houthis, who accused the Sunni-dominated Sana’a government of discrimination and repression against Yemen’s Shia minority, were the target of the army’s off and on attacks before the central government launched an all-out fighting against them in early August 2010. Same time Yemen’s southern provinces came the scene of U.S. air strikes which Washington claims to be aimed at uprooting an al-Qaeda cell operative in the Persian Gulf state. The political crisis in Yemen started in 2011 when Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country since 1978, finally signed away his presidency in favor of his Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi, a fairly weak figure who lacked a significant support base, either in politics or the military.

In August 2014, Houthi rebels swept down from their stronghold in the mountains, demanding economic and political reforms. In September, they seized key state installations in Sanaa. The militants forced the country’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government to resign and dissolved the parliament in the first weeks of 2015. Hadi was under house arrest in Sanaa before he fled to Aden in February, quickly disavowing his resignation. Now Yemen’s fugitive President Hadi has arrived in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
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On 20th March 2015 suicide bombers attacked two mosques in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, killing at least 126 people and wounding many others. Worshippers were attending noon prayers at the Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques when at least four attackers struck. The mosques are used mainly by supporters of the Zaidi Shia-led Houthi rebel movement, which controls Sanaa. Islamic State (IS), which set up a branch in Yemen in November, said it was behind the attacks. Yemen is the base of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a powerful offshoot of the jihadist militant group that has carried out similar suicide attacks on Houthi supporters. However, now it seems that IS is also gaining ground in the country. Houthi militia members seized the military airport in Taiz on March 22 without any resistance from Yemeni military forces. Taiz is the third largest city located in the heart of Yemen and the gateway to south Yemen and Aden. (Source: Al-Monitor )

The local players

Yemen is home to what Western intelligence analysts consider to be the most dangerous franchise of al-Qaeda. AQAP stands for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, an alliance formed in 2009 between violent Yemeni and Saudi Islamists. In 2000 al-Qaeda suicide bombers rammed a boat full of explosives into a billion-dollar destroyer, the USS Cole, killing 17 sailors. Today the danger of AQAP is based to its international reach. For example it is claimed AQAP to be behind the attack on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Earlier AQAP has successfully smuggled viable bombs onboard aircraft on international flights (e.g. cases of sc. “underpants bomber” and smuggled bombs hidden in printer ink toner cartridges on US-bound cargo planes).

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The Houthis are members of a rebel group, also known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), who adhere to a branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism. Houthis are a large religious group comprising about one-third the population of Yemen and they ruled North Yemen under a system known as the imamate for almost 1,000 years until 1962. The Houthis are also benefiting from increasingly overt support from forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who still has influence in the Yemeni military.

Islamic State (IS), which set up a branch in Yemen in November and is also gaining ground in the country.

U.S. involvement

For U.S. Yemen is important for two energy related issues: one is Yemen’s geopolitical location as one of the world’s most important oil transport routes and the other is undeveloped – some say one of the world’s largest – petroleum reserves in the territory. The U.S. Government Energy Information Agency states that “closure of the Bab el-Mandab could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal/Sumed pipeline complex, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. The Strait of Bab el-Mandab is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East, and a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.” In addition to its geopolitical position as a major global oil transit chokepoint, Yemen is reported to hold some of the world’s greatest untapped oil reserves.

The United States quietly opened already in 2008 largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen. Citing an unnamed former top CIA official, the New York Times wrote that then Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country. At the same time, some of the most secretive special operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics, the report said. The Pentagon will be spending more than 70 million dollars over the next 18 months, and using teams of special forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels, the paper noted. Without doubt, the military-industrial complex has a stake in expanding areas to be exploited for oil as well as protecting U.S. oil sources. This is good news to the weapons industry.

There is similar U.S. involvement now in Yemen as it was earlier in Ukraine where various U.S. agencies had their role in Kiev’s coup d’etat. In Yemen e.g. USAID has funded a $3.58 million project to create a secession movement. Project was implemented mainly in Aden as south Yemen is strategically important for Western powers.

The US embassy last month closed its operations in Sanaa after the Houthis took command of the capital, leading to a situation where two rival governments in the north and south are competing for power.

Today U.S is officially backing Saudi attack to Yemen as one can note from White House statement :

In response to the deteriorating security situation, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, and others will undertake military action to defend Saudi Arabia’s border and to protect Yemen’s legitimate government… The United States coordinates closely with Saudi Arabia and our GCC partners on issues related to their security and our shared interests. In support of GCC actions to defend against Houthi violence, President Obama has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations. While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support.

Sayyed Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, the leader of Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, said that the criminality and evil forces target all the Yemenis and their public facilities. In a televised speech, Sayyed Houthi asserted that the Saudi-US aggression on Yemen is unjustifiable, noting that the Saudi regime has always funded the plots which destabilze the regional countries. Sayyed Houthi considered that the offensive serves the Israeli and American interests. Saudi Arabia aimed at causing divisions in the various states in the region, yet the Yemeni people frustrated its plots and defeated its terrorist agents, according to Sayyed Houthi. Sayyed Houthi asserted that the Yemeni people relies on Holy God to face the Saudi-Led aggression, noting that Riyadh bets on the US role in the region. (Source: SyrianFreePress )

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Regional battleground

Yemen is a battleground between Shiite-led Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia. Houthi sources also reported they have been promised a year’s supply of crude oil from Iran and a new power plant. Direct air service between Tehran and Sanaa began in February. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) experts are advising the Houthi forces. Against this background, the success of the Houthis is seen as a blow to Saudi interests (and for that matter, American interests) and a boost for Iran. The Saudis also fear the Iranians with Iraqi help may try to stoke tensions and violence in Bahrain next.

In February 2015, a delegation of the Ansarullah movement visited the Russian capital, allegedly offering lucrative oil contracts and trade agreements, predominantly in agriculture. The delegation also included several political parties sympathetic to Ansarullah, including former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s General People’s Congress. They promised to let Russian energy companies explore the oil-rich Marib province, which the parties said “they would likely control soon.” In reality, however, Russians view the current crisis in Yemen as systemic and long-standing. In this respect, Moscow is not disillusioned about the real prospects of its own presence in the country, economic or otherwise. (Source: Al-Monitor )

Summary: In the fact the Iran-Saudi Arabia proxy war is going on in Yemen.

My view

The irony now is that Yemen has went into a civil war pitting the Shia Houthis – suspected of being backed by Iran – against Sunni tribes backed by al-Qaeda and U.S. has in fact now forced to fight for al-Qaeda. If that doesn’t seem absurd enough so in Iraq, U.S. is helping Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitaries fight the Islamic State but in Yemen, U.S. is helping the Saudis fight Iranian-backed paramilitaries. Same time U.S. is at final stage to make deal with Iran about their nuclear program much to chagrin Saudi Arabia, the main U.S. ally in Arab world.

The foreign military intervention in Yemen is a clear-cut violation of international law, in particular of Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, which bans the use of force in relations between states. The unilateral action of Saudi Arabia and its allies is not in any way justified as act of “collective self-defence”. Instead it is interference in a civil war on the side of one party to the conflict, and it will make the domestic conflict even worse.

From my perspective Yemen is last example about hypocrisy displayed By Western powers.  When U.S. backed coup ousted President Yanukovych it was praised as victory of democracy over corrupt society. When corrupt President Hadi was ousted in Yemen so West still suooorts him and even Saudi-led bombing against the people.  One can only imagine what kind of outcry had followed if Russia had started bombing campaign  against Kiev.  So in the world of double standards only politics, money and power matters as usual.

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