Filed under: Front Page News, March Volume 2009, World | Tags: israel, Palestine
N. Begum Ahmad
Islamic Post Staff Writer
It doesn’t appear as if Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will back down from the expansionist Likud party stance, despite opposing views from the US State Department. Just before visiting Israel on her tour of the Middle East early this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized to Egyptian Television her commitment to “a two-state solution, a comprehensive peace,” for Israel and the occupied territories.
However, upon arrival, Secretary Clinton and accompanying US delegates found themselves seated across from Mr Netanyahu and his choice of advisors for the meeting which included Uzi Arad, the former director of intelligence for the Mossad, who was banned from visiting the US due to suspicion of espionage activities inside the country. Mr Arad’s presence at the meeting has been interpreted by political analysts as mildly antagonistic.
The Israeli Ambassador to the US, Sallai Meridor, resigned the following day after being asked by Netanyahu to leave the meeting while Arad remained.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardliner Likud party won the right to form the next Israeli government after a close battle with Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. One vote shy of beating Ms Livni, Netanyahu was nevertheless appointed to rule Israel. However, the main differentiating factor between the two parties, that regarding the Palestinian question, had been abandoned before the race was over.
In the latter part of January, Foreign Minister Livni told 60 Minutes she agreed with the proposal of a two-state solution that would contain Israel and give Palestine borders: “[CBS reporter Bob] Simon: Can you really imagine evacuating the tens of thousands of settlers who say they will not leave? Livni: It’s not going to be easy, but this is the only solution. Simon: But you know that there are settlers who say, ‘We will fight. We will not leave. We will fight.’ Livni: So this is the responsibility of the government, of the police to stop them, as simple as that. Israel is a state of law and order.” However, Think Progress noted from a Haaretz report that after Mr Netanyahu made it clear that he would not be bound by the current government’s “commitments to withdraw” from the West Bank, Livni’s stance changed abrubtly: “I will advance only an agreement that represents our interests. Maintaining maximum settlers and places that we hold dear such as Jerusalem — not a single refugee will enter.”
Indeed, the occupied territories carried a great deal of weight in this year’s elections. As the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported, the outgoing Israeli government was “getting high marks from the Israeli public for its pounding offensive in Gaza.” But, apparently the pounding was insufficient. “Polls show that the conservative opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party have opened up a bigger lead, based on a public concern that the offensive left the Hamas regime intact while failing to free an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit,” continued CSM.
But Prime Minister- designate Netanyahu did not close that big of a gap in the end, as the final vote tallied Likud (Netanyahu) at 27 and Kadima (Livni) a point higher at 28. Despite claims of being the only Middle East democracy, votes do not always make the final decision in Israel’s parliamentary system. President Shimon Peres made the final decision that the winner would be Mr Netanyahu, who must now be able to form a coalition government. Parliamentary democracies have been widely debated over time. Some schools attest that the system is used by third world countries and former British colonies making the transition to a full democracy.
The fledgling Zionist democracy is another matter entirely. Having been founded on the pretense of expansion, it seemed relatively important that a party win this year which would not waver on that stance. Given the current climate, and no end in sight to the continued shelling of the Gaza Strip, Likud gaining the upper hand was nothing short of predictable. The party platform of Likud states: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.”
It remains to be seen how President Barack Obama’s support of a two-state solution will gain ground, especially when negotiations will be held with one who openly stated the American tragedy of 9/11 was of great benefit. “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq,” the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv quoted Mr Netanyahu as telling a Bar Ilan university audience last April. The prime minister designate reportedly added that these events “swung American public opinion in our favor.”
Uzi Arad, who served as a foreign policy advisor during Netanyahu’s previous term (1996-1999), is expected to be named head of the Israeli National Security Council once the government is formed. Uzi Arad was linked in 2005 to Lawrence Franklin, a former U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel who pled guilty to passing information about U.S. policy towards Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S, while he was working for the Defense Department. Israel denies allegations of the link.
Filed under: August Volume 1 - 2008, Front Page News, International, World | Tags: israel, Palestine, Torture
By Mubeen Khaleel, Islamic Post Staff Writer
Late last month, Associated Press writers Karin Laub and Dalia Nammari, along with contributing writers Ali Daraghmeh, Mohammed Daraghmeh, and Ibrahim Barzak, reported on allegations of torture being perpetrated by two Palestinian rival political groups, Fatah and Hamas, against each other.
The report made no mention of the abuse of Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities.
United Against Torture, a coalition –funded by the European Union– of Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations, in their 2007 annual report made specific mention of Israel’s role in perpetuating torture.
The United Against Torture (UAT) report stated the “most tragic development in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] is… former Palestinians, who have suffered abuse while in Israeli detention, now in turn perpetrate the same kind of treatment on their fellow Palestinians.
“There are also reports of increased domestic violence, including in families of former detainees ill-treated in Israeli prisons.”
UAT’s list of torture mechanisms used by the Israeli security service reads like a proposed manual for Abu Ghraib: tying up detainees in painful positions for hours or days on end; solitary confinement, confinement in tiny cubicles; beatings, violent “shaking,” deprivation of sleep and food; exposure to cold or heat; verbal, sexual and psychological abuse; threats against the individual or the individual’s family; lack of adequate clothing or hygiene.
The organization insists “These methods have caused irreversible psychological and physical damage,” not to mention death.
Paul Craig Roberts in his work, “Are You Ready to Face the Facts About Israel?,” quoted a 1977 edition of the London Sunday Times, wherein Ralph Schoenman, executive director of the Bertrand Russell Foundation, wrote: “Israeli interrogators routinely ill-treat and torture Arab prisoners. Prisoners are hooded or blindfolded and are hung by their wrists for long periods. Most are struck in the genitals or in other ways sexually abused. Most are sexually assaulted. Others are administered electric shock.”
UAT reports that Israeli security forces interrogated approximately 23,000 Palestinians during the Intifada (1987-1993) alone; and that the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel estimates that “almost all the above detainees suffered from some form of torture during their interrogation.”
It is most unfortunate that Israelis are perpetrating the same tactics which were used on themselves and their forefathers in the holocaust death camps of the Illuminati-inspired Nazis. Israeli security forces are also operating out of Abu Ghraib (as reported in the July Vol. II edition of the Islamic Post).
While the U.S. Supreme Court was standing up for justice, declaring the military tribunals of Guantanamo Bay to be illegal, it was scarcely reported that the Supreme Court of Israel, at about the same time, upheld a controversial law that states, “Unlawful combatants suspected of involvement in terrorism can be held indefinitely; although judicial review of detentions under the law are required every six months.”
This ruling reflects the infringement upon personal rights, and justifies the means for the sake of “limiting acts of terrorism against Israel,” as reported by the University of Pittsburg School of Law legal news site, Jurist.
In the wake of new Israeli legislation allowing the indefinite detention of anyone deemed a security threat, and also the military commissions which persist in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, due process for Muslims worldwide has never been more in question.
Filed under: International, July Volume II - 2008, World | Tags: Egypt, israel, Palestine
By Abu Aasim, Islamic Post Correspondent
The Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire between Israel and Gaza came under further strain on the morning of Wednesday July 2 when a man, reportedly a Palestinian working on a light rail line in occupied East Jerusalem, took his bulldozer on a rampage, plowing through a busy street, crushing cars, turning over a bus, and causing other destruction. The incident left, at latest count, four people dead, and 30 more wounded. The dead included the driver himself, who was fatally shot in his vehicle by police.
The Israeli security forces are treating the incident as a terrorist attack; although, according to Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, the man had “a criminal record,” but no known links to what the Israeli government considers “terrorist organizations.”
The truce, which officially went into effect on the 19th of last month, has been shaky from the start; as the Israeli military carried out last minute strikes on Palestinian targets within mere hours of the agreement’s commencement. Days later, an Israeli raid, which left a Palestinian youth dead in the West Bank, provoked rocket fire from Gaza, for which a resistance group claimed responsibility.
The friction has led to slow action on the part of the Israelis to deliver on many of the truce’s terms, which included a partial end to the closed borders around Gaza that has left Gaza impoverished. The friction has also led to a delay in the reopening of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. The crossing was brought down by force back in January by Hamas, the elected Palestinian government which now only controls Gaza, seeking to loosen the chokehold placed on its people by the months-long Israeli blockade that has restricted everything from fuel to food to the movements of citizens within the war-ravaged territory.
The chief architect of the truce, Egyptian Head of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman, who spent months bringing the two sides to the table for the agreement, has expressed deep concern over the recent events that have threatened the stability of the deal, according to the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram, which quoted unnamed government sources. Suleiman is remaining in “direct contact with both sides to [ensure] that the situation does not escalate,” the paper reported.
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has also been holding direct talks with both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah to work out the details of a prisoner exchange that would see the release of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, captured in 2006 by Palestinian anti-occupation fighters, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by the Israelis. The prisoner exchange is arguably the most vital tenet of the truce.
Since the bulldozer incident occurred, the truce hasn’t broken down; but Israeli aggression has not ceased. At the first meeting of the newly-formed “Mediterranean Union” in Paris Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, who is currently under intense pressure from Israeli hardliners displeased with his apparent openness to a peace deal with Syria and prisoner exchanges with Hezbollah and Hamas, stated that a peace settlement is “closer than ever.”
These lofty words will most likely have an effect on the minds of the Palestinian people only when Israeli actions begin to change with the rhetoric.
Meanwhile the region waits to see how the events of the coming days will unfold.