Hamas sets Rafah border conditions
A delegation led by Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, has proposed
joint Palestinian-Egyptian control of the Rafah crossing.
They set down these conditions on Thursday on the second day of talks
in Cairo geared towards resolving the week-old crisis on the
Gaza-Egypt border as Egypt continued its mediat ing role between Hamas
The delegation proposed removing EU observers, maintaining that these
observers were in no position to stop Israel from closing the border
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader, said these "historical borders"
should not be used to impose a seige on the Palestinians.
Other conditions set by Hamas include that the Palestinian role should
be determined by an agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian
The movement also said it was against Israel's veto power to close the
Hamas further proposed that the entry into and out of Gaza through
Rafah should not only be confined to Palestinians carrying
identification cards issued by the PA.
Thursday's deliberations come a day after Mahmoud Abbas, the
Palestinian president, met Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president, and
asserted his refusal to deal with Hamas.
Meshaal is expected to meet Ahmed Abulgheit, Egypt's foreign minister,
and Omar Sullieman, its head of intelligence.
In related news on Thursday, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man
in the southern Gaza Strip, local medics and the Israeli military said.
Twenty-year-old Mahmud al-Daalsah, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades, was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli soldiers near
the town of Rafa h , medics and witnesses said.
An Israeli military spokesman said "the combatant was killed when he
approached the security barrier" between the territory and Israel .
Since Israel and the Palestinians revived their peace negotiations in
late November after a seven-year freeze, at least 145 people, mostly
fighters, have been killed by Israeli troops in Hamas-run Gaza .
Thursday's death brings to 6,105 the number of people killed, a vast
majority of them Palestinians, since the start of the second
Palestinian uprising in September 2000, according to an AFP tally.
Egypt increased security around the border town of Rafah on Tuesday,
and resealed parts of the barrier destroyed a week ago by Hamas
fighters, in an attempt to control the flow of people in and out of
the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian state media has reported Cairo is soon to close the border.
One state-run newspaper said Cairo planned to close the border on
Thursday, and the al-Ahram newspaper said the last opportunity for
Gazans to return home would be at the start of next week.
The situation for the Gaza Strip, however, remains unresolved, and the
Israeli Supreme Court upheld the government's decision to cut fuel and
Israeli human rights groups have challenged the sanctions, which
Israel says are aimed at halting ongoing rocket fire by Gaza fighters.
Palestinian officials say the cutbacks have harmed Gaza 's already
impoverished residents by causing power shortages and crippling
Israel, which pulled out of Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year occupation,
supplies all of Gaza 's fuel and more than two-thirds of its electricity.
The Israeli blockade of the strip, appeared to be easing, however,
when Asher Luk, the manager of Israel 's Karni crossing with Gaza ,
said that 70 trucks of wheat and animal feed would be allowed into the
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
This is how the thugs in Hebron behave (6:39):
(Make sure you're not eating
while seeing this.)
An Experiment in Famine
Hamas is Not the Real Issue
By NEVE GORDON
January 30, 2008
The experiment in famine began on January 18, 2008. Israel
hermetically closed all of Gaza's borders, preventing even food,
medicine and fuel from entering the Strip. Power cuts, which had been
frequent for many months, were extended to 12 hours per day. Due to
the electricity shortage, at least 40 percent of Gazans have not had
access to running water (which is channeled through electric pumps)
for several days and the sewage system has broken down. The raw sewage
that has not spilled onto the streets is now being poured into the sea
at a daily rate of 30 million liters. Hospitals have been forced to
rely on emergency generators leading them to cut back, yet again, on
the already limited services offered to the Palestinian population.
The World Food Programme has reported critical shortages of food and
declared that it is unable to provide 10,000 of the poorest Gazans
with three out of the five foodstuffs they normally receive.
After five days of extreme suffering, a group of Hamas militants took
the lead, and blew-up parts of the steel wall along the Egyptian
border. Within hours more than 100,000 Gazans crossed the border into
Egypt. They were hungry, thirsty and sick of being locked up in a
filthy cage. Once in Egypt they bought everything they could get their
hands on and waited patiently for the international community to
intervene on their behalf. Yet the world leaders failed them again,
and on January 28, after a five day respite, the iron wall was
re-erected and the Palestinians were pushed back into the world's
largest prison -- the Gaza Strip.
Ehud Barak, Israel's Minister of Defense, did not stammer when he
justified his decision to experiment with famine; he had no qualms
about introducing a policy that historically only the most brutal
leaders have adopted.
His argument seems rational. Barak said that no government in the
world would tolerate the ongoing bombardment of its citizens from
across the border. Since other measures -- like harsh economic
sanctions, extra-judicial executions, the ongoing barrage of northern
parts of the Strip as well as the bombardment of several critical
infrastructure sites, like the electric power plant and Palestinian
government offices -- did not do the job, Israel had no other option.
This ostensibly rational argument conveniently ignores the fact that
since its victory in the January 2006 democratic elections Hamas has
proposed several cease-fire agreements, the latest emerging just last
week. In these proposals, Hamas agrees to stop launching missiles at
Israeli citizens, in exchange for Israel ending its incursions into
Gaza, the assassinations of militants and political leaders, and the
Hamas's proposals underscore two important facts. First, despite what
Barak says the use of force is not the only option Israel has: The
government could decide to open a dialogue with Hamas based on a
cease-fire agreement. Second, it emphasizes, as Israeli critic Uri
Avnery cogently observes, that Israel is cynically using the assaults
on its own citizens as a pretext for attempting to overthrow the Hamas
regime in Gaza and for preventing a Hamas takeover in the West Bank.
Ultimately, though, even the courageous Avnery does not spell out
Israel's main objective. The central issue for Israel is not Hamas yes
or no, but rather Palestinian sovereignty yes or no. The recent crisis
reveals, once more, that Israel's August 2005 unilateral withdrawal
from the Gaza Strip was not an act of decolonization but rather the
reorganization of Israeli power and the implementation of neo-colonial
rule. Israel realized that in order to maintain sovereignty all it
would have to do is preserve its monopoly over the legitimate means of
movement. Very different from the withdrawal of British forces from
the various colonies of old, it accordingly continued to dominate
Gaza's borders, transforming the Strip into a container of sorts whose
openings are totally controlled by Israel.
The experiment in Gaza is, in other words, not really about the
bombardment of Israeli citizens or even about Israel's ongoing efforts
to undermine Hamas. It is simply a new draconian strategy aimed at
denying the Palestinians their most basic right to self-determination.
It is about showing them who is in control, about breaking their
backs, so that they lower their expectations and bow down to Israeli
demands. The Palestinians understood this and courageously destroyed
their prison wall while crying out into the wilderness for
international support. Instead of the expected outrage, the only
response they received was a weak echo of their own cry for help.
Neve Gordon teaches politics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel and can
be reached at nevegordon@...
Arbour backs plan that seeks end to Zionism
UN human rights czar supports controversial pan-Arab charter
The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
UNITED NATIONS - Louise Arbour, the United Nations high commissioner
for human rights, has thrown her support behind a major pan-Arab human
rights charter that commits to the elimination of Zionism.
Some critics say the wording is code for the destruction of Israel,
but in a statement from her Geneva headquarters, the former justice of
the Supreme Court of Canada welcomes the Arab Charter on Human Rights,
which will come into force in mid-March.
"Regional systems of promotion and protection can further help
strengthen the enjoyment of human rights, and the ... charter is an
important step forward in this direction," Ms. Arbour says.
While the document demands respect for a host of internationally
recognized human rights, its references to Zionism concern leading
human rights activist groups, including Amnesty International,
International Commission of Jurists and UN Watch.
The charter's preamble speaks of "rejecting all forms of racism and
Zionism," alleging they violate human rights and threaten
international peace and security.
Article 2 of the 53-article document says "all forms of racism,
Zionism and foreign occupation and domination" should be "condemned
and efforts must be deployed for their elimination."
"These provisions cannot be dismissed as harmless rhetoric," says a
letter UN Watch sent Monday to Ms. Arbour asking her for a
"clarification" of her support for the charter.
The term Zionist Entity is routinely used in the Middle East and
beyond by countries and groups that do not recognize the Israeli state
or its right to exist.
The Arab world felt its own charter would better reflect its cultural
heritage than do international protections such as the 1948 Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
An initial 1994 version fell short of international standards in many
areas, while the current version dates to revisions begun in 2004.
At that time, a newsletter issued by Ms. Arbour's office shortly after
her appointment as UN high commissioner for human rights called the
charter's Zionism references a "contentious issue."
Amnesty International said in a paper the charter should use
international human rights standards as a point of reference "rather
than focusing on a particular ideology or ideologies."
A spokesman for Ms. Arbour's office said it planned to address the UN
Watch letter in the near future.
Ms. Arbour issued her statement after the United Arab Emirates on Jan.
15 became the seventh country to ratify the charter, thereby
triggering a two-month countdown before the measures take force.
Among other issues questioned by international human rights groups,
the charter says certain rights can be suspended in the event of a
On marriage, the charter stipulates it can only be between a man and a
Women, who face religion-based discrimination in many Islamic
countries, are guaranteed equal rights "within the framework of the
positive discrimination established in favour of women by the Islamic
Shariah, other divine laws, and by applicable laws and legal instruments."
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