Abdalhadi Alijla https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/13165/all cached version 08/02/2019 18:16:38 en A Palestinian house with many struggles https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinian-house-with-many-struggles <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The struggle of Palestinians takes different forms, between living under the Palestinian Authority or the de-facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39876405.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-39876405.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Palestinian protester near the border between Israel and Gaza Strip on the 23rd of November 2018. Picture by NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>While the international community is concerned about the ongoing round of escalations between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians in the West Bank fight on another front. The escalation in the Gaza strip, albeit seeming to be between the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and Israel, is also a silent struggle against the de-facto rulers of the Gaza Strip, namely, Hamas. </p><p>As of early September, the Palestinians in the West Bank have taken to the streets, protesting against the new Palestinian Social Security Law (PSS), proposed by the Palestinian Authority. Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, there have not been such protests against any of the dozens of proposed laws and regulations. Simply, because this law touches on people’s livelihood. The law deducts from their salaries and provides the money to an <a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/society/2018/10/10/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%AE%D9%88%D9%81%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B6%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%8A-%D9%84%D8%A7-%D9%86%D8%AB%D9%82-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9">untrusted institution</a> to manage and invest. PSS which was approved and signed by the Palestinian president in 2016, without any public consultations or deliberations in the malfunctioning Palestinian Legislative Council, was faced with considerable criticism due to the very obvious gaps that do not meet the needs of Palestinians. <a href="http://www.ppp.ps/ar_page.php?id=11aa971y18524529Y11aa971">The critiques </a><a href="http://www.ppp.ps/ar_page.php?id=11aa971y18524529Y11aa971">range from civil society organizations</a>, human rights organizations, journalists, and private sector.</p> <p>Recently, trust between the Palestinians and the PA’s institutions has declined sharply. According to <a href="http://www.arabbarometer.org/">the Arab Barometer</a>, in 2016, more than 65% of the Palestinians had no trust in the government. In 2007, 31% of Palestinians had great trust in the government, by 2016 the number had already dropped to 6%. Also in 2016, a majority of Palestinians, 56% to be precise, showed distrust in the courts and the legal system. This data snapshot does not appear from a void, but rather as a result of a set of factors that have undermined the relationship between the PA’s institutions and the Palestinian people.</p> <p>The main factor is the corruption within the PA, which has been transformed into a limited corporation for a particular group of people around the current President and his notoriously corrupt Prime Minister. In 2016, more than 90% of the Palestinians believed that there was corruption within the PA, compared to 67% in 2007 and 72% in 2011. Recent evidence shows that many of the sons, daughters, and relatives of senior officials within the PA are being appointed, either in the diplomatic corps or in Ramallah. In 2018, scholarships for postgraduate studies were given to sons and daughters of PA senior officials, ignoring the Palestinian students who are in urgent need of such assistance. Although these incidents of corruption are very common, the PA officials do not care about the reactions of the Palestinians.</p> <p>Another factor is the political deadlock and the end of the peace process. These in addition to the inability of President Abbas to present a new national agenda played a factor in forcing him to eradicate his opponents, such as Mohamed Dahlan, and others within the ruling party, Fatah, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. According to <a href="https://www.v-dem.net/en/">Varieties of Democracy Institute</a> data at Gothenburg University, Abbas has secured all means of power in his hands, which makes him nothing less than a dictator. Besides that, Abbas’ constant carelessness towards the National Council resolutions, and his verbal attacks against his colleagues within the PLO have put him in a position to be a single authority. All that is added to his failure to achieve national reconciliation.</p> <p>In addition, the last two years witnessed intensified security measures against freedom of expression. On many occasions, the PA security forces used excessive force, physical harassment, imprisonment, and illegal detention against their opponents, and protesters. According to a Human Right Watch report that was published in October, “serious crimes have been committed in Palestine by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.” <a href="https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/10/23/two-authorities-one-way-zero-dissent/arbitrary-arrest-and-torture-under">HRW invited the ICC</a> prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to consider arrests and treatment in custody of detainees by the PA and Hamas as part of any future investigation into the situation in Palestine. Above all, in the last year, Abbas intensified his measures against Hamas in the Gaza Strip; however, he imposed a collective punishment against the Palestinians living in the Gaza strip who used to work in the public sector within the PA before 2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. His moves led to colossal criticism by all parties including Fatah. In June, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets against the PA’s sanctions, calling for the halt of sanctions against the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators were met with an iron fist, where many where <a href="http://www.annaharkw.com/annahar/Article.aspx?id=800090&amp;date=15062018">detained and injured</a>.</p> <p>Later, in September, the struggle of the people in the West Bank shifted against the new social security law, leaving the Gaza Strip facing its faith alone. In social media as well as in streets, thousands showed opposition to the law. The law does not protect the people, and the history of the PLO is proof that the people’s money, taxation, and savings are not protected. There are many precedents that prove the opacity in terms of people’s salaries. According to the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau, 60% of 17 million Israeli shekels, which are the financial income from the General Organization of Workers in Israel (Histadrut), to the General Union of Workers in Palestine (GUWP) were allocated to general administrative expenses’.</p> <p>This means that Palestinian workers’ savings which were supposed to be invested by GUWP have been misused. According to <a href="https://www.facebook.com/akram.ijla/posts/2196748127004037">Akram Ijla</a>, a previous general director, and public servant within the PA from 1994, no one can ensure that the people’s money will not be stolen or wasted. He argues that in 1994, the Palestinian Authority took over the social security fund which was part of the Egyptian and Israeli civil administration in Gaza since 1950s. “They took almost 237 million USD, which is the great majority of the fund, with the aim to invest it but then nothing happened, and the money disappeared, and no one spoke about it until today”.</p> <p>The Palestinians in the West Bank have been tamed. They care more about their livelihood and source of income to secure their bread and to cover their hugely expensive living costs, as a result of the neoliberal economy. Today, people’s struggle against the PA is a priority while the struggle against the occupation comes second. </p> <p>In the Gaza Strip, the struggle is slightly different. <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/great-return-march-months-protests-gaza-strip-180926122828814.html">The Great Return March</a>, which started in March 2018 was a result of the bankruptcy of possible usage of violent means by the de-facto rulers in the Gaza Strip. Although the idea came from independent activists, who were honest in their non-violent strategy, the march, later, was hijacked by Hamas and became violent. The people’s struggle for political gains amid the efforts to sustain their power in the Gaza Strip, and their seeking international recognition as the sole legitimate ruler of the Gaza Strip, was exploited. The Great March has shown a conflicting account among the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. On the one hand, there are those who condemn Hamas tactics, argue that Hamas is swapping the blood of the innocents in the Gaza strip for partisan gains, and on the other, there are those who believe in the novelty of the march.</p> <p>During the ongoing political division, the Gaza Strip has witnessed three major slaughters, while being besieged by the Israeli army. Hamas did not master how to maneuver politically according to the regional and international power dynamics, and therefore, it took the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as hostages. The results of Hamas’ political childishness and rejection of any efforts for reconciliations with Fatah, were overwhelming on the people of Gaza. Corruption increased, the siege hardened, and severe destruction ensued. Furthermore, this provided the Israeli extremist government with a pretext to continue besieging the Gaza Strip. </p> <p>Hamas is accused by the Palestinians in Gaza of misusing public money and international aid. Until recently, the power cut in the Gaza strip amounted to more than 19 hours daily. Recent developments in truce talks between Hamas and Israel, mediated by the UN and Egypt, resulted in fuel trucks being allowed to enter the only Gaza power plant. This time, Israel imposed one condition: the UN must monitor and accompany the fuel trucks from the entry point to the operating rooms. Nowadays, the Gaza power cut is less by few hours a day if it happens. The same amount of fuel used to enter many times a year. Therefore, Gazans ask, where did it go, and who stole it. Many answers: the de-facto ruler did that. It was sold privately to the Gazans, and private power generator owners.</p> <p>Another example is the Gaza Rafah crossing. If a Gazan needs to travel, they either have to wait lengthy periods or pay to Gaza’s de-facto government officials, as a bribe to facilitate their exit by letting them in the first buses leaving the Gaza strip. As someone from Gaza, who has been following Gaza affairs routinely, I believe that Hamas has not changed its mind as a party; instead of as a rebel government, Hamas continues to think of its own members, and most importantly, the senior members. They perceived the people of Gaza, as an investment opportunity by diverting international aid, and humanitarian assistance to their benefit. In many cases, international and Arab humanitarian aid were privately sold or distributed to Hamas members. The de-facto government imposed a different layer of taxation over goods that enter the Gaza Strip, either from Egypt or Israel. A close friend informed me that a cigarette box from Egypt costs less than one USD. At the same time, Hamas sells the same type of cigarette for at least four USD. Almost all imported goods have high taxations, which go to Hamas’ budget.</p> <p>In Gaza, the people’s struggle is shaped by two factors: the political division that humiliates them and their livelihoods, transforming the majority of them into people who live in extreme poverty, and the second factor is the occupation that strips them from their humanity, restricting their movements, killing them, and making the Gaza Strip an uninhabitable place. Therefore, Gazans did not take to the streets against the social security law, but marched to the borders, against Israel, and also against their lives. Many protestors informed me secretly that they went because they find death by the Israeli soldiers better than the slow death in the Gaza Strip or suicide. Along the lines of "we live because of lack of death."</p> <p> The Palestinian struggle is not only a struggle against the Israeli occupation, rather a struggle against the corrupt de-facto governments and authorities in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Their struggle takes different shapes and forms, amid the diminishing likelihood of an independent state, and the increasing police-ization of the Palestinian Authority and the de-facto government in the Gaza Strip. In conclusion, Palestinians everywhere have their own different struggle. In the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Israel, Lebanon, Syria, the rest of the Arab world and in the diaspora. These struggles share one thing, political divisions.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/samah-jabr/professional-solidarity-with-palestine-mental-health-imperative">Professional solidarity with Palestine: a mental health imperative </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/jen-marlowe-fadi-abu-shammalah/great-return-march-and-women-of-gaza">The Great Return March and the women of Gaza</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinians-in-gaza-fighting-for-life-struggling-for-rights">The Palestinians in Gaza: fighting for life, struggling for rights</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Conflict Democracy and government West Bank Hamas Gaza occupation Abdalhadi Alijla Wed, 05 Dec 2018 09:30:41 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 120842 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Palestinians in Gaza: fighting for life, struggling for rights https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinians-in-gaza-fighting-for-life-struggling-for-rights <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Stuck between the hammer of the Israeli apartheid and the anvil of Palestinian political parties, the youth in Gaza are rising up.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36218478.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/PA-36218478.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Palestinian girl waves the Palestinian flag along the Israel-Gaza border, in Gaza City, 27 April 2018. Picture by: Wissam Nassar/DPA/PA Images. all rights reserved.</span></span></span>Seventy years ago, more than 170,000 Palestinian from historic Palestine were&nbsp;<a href="http://alray.ps/ar/post/105369/%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%88100-%D8%A3%D9%84%D9%81-%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A6-%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%B4%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%81%D9%8A-8-%D9%85%D8%AE%D9%8A%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D9%82%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">forced to leave their homes</a>, villages, cities and lands, as refugees to the Gaza Strip. They were part of the&nbsp;<a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20110822123836/http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf/b792301807650d6685256cef0073cb80/93037e3b939746de8525610200567883?OpenDocument">710,000 Palestinians</a>&nbsp;who were forced to leave, seeking refuge in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere.&nbsp;</p><p>The images of elderly people and kids fleeing the killings of the Zionists gangs and militias in 1948, still occupy the vivid memories of Palestinians as well as comprising the visual identity of the Nakba (Catastrophe). Today, after seven decades, the grandsons&nbsp;and granddaughtersof those refugees are making their way back to their villages. They have never seen their villages, homes or land, but they kept the memories of their grandparents, linking their identity to their villages, vowing to return to their homes, relying on the international recognition of their right to return, and the moral responsibilities of their right.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The Great Return March is not solely a protest against the ongoing siege of Gaza</p><p>The Great Return March (GRM) is not solely a protest against the ongoing siege of Gaza, and the increasingly severe humanitarian crisis, but rather it is a protest against the Nakba, that has been ongoing since 1948. The young generation of Palestinians know that the current humanitarian crisis and the disintegration on the Palestinian system is a result of the Nakba,&nbsp;as well as thedehumanization and the apartheid that is institutionalized against the indigenous people of Palestine. Therefore, any discussion on the GRM should consider the protests as an action and a reaction. Action against the ongoing imprisonment of 1.8 million Palestinians in the Gaza strip for more than ten years, and a reaction to the apathy of the international community.&nbsp;</p><p>According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, forty Palestinian civilians were killed and 5511 were wounded since&nbsp;<a href="https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/40-dead-5-511-wounded-un-figures-on-casualties-in-gaza-mass-protests-1.6030556">March 30</a>. Two journalists were assassinated deliberately by the Israeli forces, despite each bearing a clear sign that they are journalists. In addition to this, hundreds of the wounded were children and minors. Each of the forty people who scarified themselves had a story to tell, and a mission to accomplish. They were humans, who loved, and were beloved&nbsp;bytheir families, friends and relatives.&nbsp;</p><p>One of those killed was Mohammed Ayoub, 15 years old from Jabbaliya, who was&nbsp;<a href="http://alaqsavoice.ps/news/details/202249">shot in the head</a>&nbsp;in front of cameras, without threatening or causing any harm to the Israeli&nbsp;Army. In his&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/mo3tssem/posts/10213427976386132">photos</a>&nbsp;there is one where he drew aheartbetween&nbsp;his initials and&nbsp;those of another person. He did not think that he would be a target&nbsp;ofan Israeli sniper who&nbsp;might have even cheered after shooting a civilian, as one video showed soldiers cheering as they were shooting at civilians. Mohamed died and left a story to remember.&nbsp;</p><p>Another person killed was the beloved journalist, Yasser Mourtaja, who was well- known in Gaza for his&nbsp;kindness tochildren and his professionalism as a photojournalist. Weeks before he was killed by the Israeli snipers despite&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/middle-east/israel-army-accused-of-targeting-journalists-in-border-clashes/news-story/be6ff933cf1f391199765cbdb9e07745">wearing a vest</a>&nbsp;marked by “PRESS”, he was awarded a USAID fund for his media&nbsp;organisation.</p><p>A third person lost was the artist&nbsp;<a href="https://palplus.net/video/90615-%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%B4%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AF-%D9%81%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%AF-%D8%A3">Mohamed Abu Amro</a>, who was shot in the head while participating in a nonviolent protest on the eastern borders of Gaza.&nbsp;</p><p>19 year old&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/israel-threatens-to-expand-response-if-gaza-violence-continues/2018/03/31/aab4d494-3464-11e8-b6bd-0084a1666987_story.html?noredirect=on&amp;utm_term=.5167c78fe5b6">Abdulfatah Abdulnabi</a>&nbsp;was running away from the fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israel, when an Israeli sniper shot him dead.&nbsp;</p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-5225383,00.html">video</a>&nbsp;published by the Israeli media shows how the Israeli soldiers and army view the Palestinians. The video shows an Israeli&nbsp;Armyofficer asking one soldier to “shoot the guy in blue”, but the soldier tells him that he will take the one in red. This interaction shows how the Palestinians have been dehumanized by the Israelis, with the removal of their names, history, families, and humanity. The video illustrates the approach of the Israeli&nbsp;Army which sees millions of Palestinians as objects&nbsp;rather thanhumans. It is evidence that the conflict is not only about freedom, but also&nbsp;aboutlife.&nbsp;</p><p>This killing doctrine and the dehumanisation of the Palestinians can be seen clearly in the&nbsp;words of&nbsp;Israeli defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who&nbsp;<a href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/4/8/israel-defence-minister-says-no-innocent-people-in-gaza">said</a>&nbsp;after nine Palestinians were killed that there were “no Innocent people in Gaza”.&nbsp;</p><p lang="en-US">The population of the Gaza Strip that has been under intense siege since January 2006 and has been suffering enormously. Since&nbsp;the early 1990s, Israel imposed movement restrictions on the Gaza Strip, where 1.8 million people live,&nbsp;making itone of the biggest&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ochaopt.org/theme/gaza-blockade">open air prison</a><a href="https://www.ochaopt.org/theme/gaza-blockade">s</a>&nbsp;in the world.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left" lang="sv-SE">It is&nbsp;2018, and&nbsp;the Gaza Strip is&nbsp;already uninhabitable</p><p lang="sv-SE">In 2015, a&nbsp;<a href="http://time.com/4019509/gaza-uninhabitable-unctad/">UN report</a>&nbsp;warned that, under&nbsp;the&nbsp;current conditions, the Gaza Strip will be “uninhabitable” by 2020. However,&nbsp;it is&nbsp;2018, and&nbsp;the Gaza Strip is&nbsp;already&nbsp;uninhabitable.&nbsp;</p><p lang="sv-SE">The ongoing Israeli blockage, and the sanctions imposed by the Palestinian authority against the Gaza Strip, was the result of failed reconciliation efforts with Hamas. Since then the economy and life in Gaza has been crippled, with suffering growing rapidly. In 2015, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Downloads/book2188.pdf">GDP in the Gaza Strip</a>&nbsp;was 971 USD, while it was 5754 USD for the same period in the West Bank.&nbsp;</p><p lang="sv-SE">Comparatively in&nbsp;<a href="https://countryeconomy.com/gdp/israel">Israel</a>&nbsp;it is at 44,019 USD.&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="http://english.wafa.ps/page.aspx?id=JQZdoka52413989463aJQZdok">unemployment</a>&nbsp;rate in the Gaza Strip and West Bank reached 26.9% in 2016, with Gaza hardest hit at 41.7% unemployment compared to 18.2% in the West Bank. Yet, the real numbers of youth unemployment in Gaza have&nbsp;reached more than 75%.&nbsp;This shows the inequality that the Palestinians suffer compared to Israel, and also how the Gaza Strip is suffering from huge inequality compared to the West Bank.&nbsp;</p><p>The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are walking through&nbsp;a dark tunnel, with&nbsp;no end in sight. They are&nbsp;stuck between the hammer of the Israeli apartheid and the anvil of Palestinian political parties.&nbsp;This reality&nbsp;pushes them to take the lead and organize nonviolent protests, shifting attention to the real cause of the problem, which started in 1948.&nbsp;</p><p>The youth of the Gaza Strip are&nbsp;rising up in the face of Israeli colonialism, and the status-quo, as well as&nbsp;an act of&nbsp;rejection&nbsp;ofthe political parties in the Gaza strip, including Hamas and Fatah. The youth in Gaza struggle for their dignity, and prefer to fight for life and die in dignity, rather than die&nbsp;slowly from the blockade.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/neil-serougi/health-catastrophe-in-gaza-our-double-standards-are-killing-pale">The health catastrophe in Gaza: our double standards are killing Palestinians</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/stephen-mccloskey/gaza-s-great-march-of-return-is-international-rallying-call">Gaza’s “Great March of Return”: an international rallying call for peace and justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/isabella-bellezza-smull/from-land-day-to-70th-anniversary-of-nakba-palestinia">From Land Day to the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, Palestinians have plenty to protest</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/lorenz-naegeli/eu-and-right-to-education-in-west-bank">The EU and the right to education in the West Bank</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Conflict Democracy and government occupation Israel Gaza Abdalhadi Alijla Fri, 04 May 2018 07:41:47 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 117670 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The melancholy of the Palestinians: a heritage destroyed https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/melancholy-of-palestinians-heritage-destroyed <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Gaza's historical sites are under threat of destruction, but courageous young Gazan activists, archaeologists and historians are fighting to protect their heritage.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Tal_alsakan.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562712/Tal_alsakan.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="245" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A view of St. Helarion in Gaza. Picture by Ahmed Al Nabris, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).</span></span></span>On a summer day, when I started my secondary school in Gaza, my father told me a story. The story goes, when Israel occupied Egyptian Sinai, they brought a huge drill with hundreds of stones that have ancient Hebrew calligraphy on them. They dag and buried them secretly in the desert. "They did that so the next generations will find them and say that this land belongs to Israel," he explained.</p> <p>Being a teenager, I listened sparingly. Even though I could not verify my dad's story, I do have oral evidence from security officers in Gaza who worked in this field from 1994 until 2007. They claim that Israel, in collaboration with Palestinians used to seize and steal Gaza's antiquities. I have seen the Taliban <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31813681">destroying Bamiyan Buddhas</a>, I have witnessed the time when <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/inside-palmyra-syria-after-second-isis-islamic-state-occupation">ISIS destroy</a><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/inside-palmyra-syria-after-second-isis-islamic-state-occupation">ed Palmyra</a>, I have seen the looting and destruction of Iraqi antiquities, and cried in front of <a href="https://archaeology-travel.com/photo-album/ishtar-gate-in-the-pergamon-museum/">Ishtar's gate in Berlin</a>, but never did I expect to witness the elimination of one of the most ancient Canaanite cities at the hands of Palestinians.</p> <p lang="en-US">The first documented human settlements in the Gaza Strip date back to 6000 years ago. This part of the world has been part of the Iron, Bronze, Stone, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Ottoman, and Modern ages, it has been under endless attacks that have targeted its antiquities and <a href="http://www.aljazeera.net/news/cultureandart/2011/8/9/%E2%80%8F%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B2-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A2%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%86%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%A9">tangible heritage</a>.</p> <p>These attacks were not limited to the Israeli occupation which established a systematic campaign to evacuate Gaza from its antiquities. For instance, as Israeli Army Chief, Moche Dayan stole hundreds of antiquities from the Gaza Strip and Sinai. Archeologists have denounced Dayan's unethical and criminal behavior that lead to a <a href="http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/165266">diplomatic crisis</a> between Egypt and Israel.</p> <p>In 2015, after much work, Saada foundation in Lebanon were able to buy (and bring back to the Middle East) dozens of Palestinian antiquities that Moche Dayan had sent as <a href="http://al-akhbar.com/node/244964">gift</a><a href="http://al-akhbar.com/node/244964">s to his friends</a> in Europe and North America. </p> <p class="mag-quote-right">Tal al-Sakan is just one of the many examples of&nbsp;Palestinian archaeological sites that are in danger</p><p>However, the destruction, smuggling, and embezzlement of the Palestinian heritage have not been only committed by the Israeli authorities. Some Palestinians have also been <a href="https://www.arab48.com/%E2%80%8F%D9%81%D8%B3%D8%AD%D8%A9/%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%82/%D8%A2%D8%AE%D8%B1/2017/10/15/%D8%BA%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D8%B1%D9%86%D8%B3%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%82%D8%B0-%D8%A2%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">involved</a> in these illegal and shameful activities. </p> <p>Most recently, the Hamas government and members have destroyed Tal al-Sakan, a 4500 years old site. Tal al-Sakan is just one of the many examples of <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/archive/2003/12/200849141518909795.html">Palestinian archaeological sites that are in danger</a>. </p> <p>In 2015, and as a result of Hamas's financial crisis, Hamas's de facto government decided to allocate land as a reward for their employees. These are <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/ar/originals/2016/07/gaza-employees-dues-compensation-public-land-distribution-.html">public land</a><a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/ar/originals/2016/07/gaza-employees-dues-compensation-public-land-distribution-.html">s</a>. In other words, they provided loyal members with shares of land in a move that reveals malfeasance and nepotism by the rulers of the Gaza Strip. High-rank employees preferred lands located in a south Gaza suburb considered an extension of Gaza city, or the ‘new Gaza’ hosting new campuses of four main universities. In this area the <a href="http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/282651">prices of land</a> are high. </p> <p>That land was <a href="https://www.palinfo.com/news/2017/9/23/%D8%AA%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%83%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%86%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D8%B3%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%AA">Tal Al Sakan</a>, one of the most ancient sites in Gaza. Palestinian, French and Swedish archeologists discovered the site in 1998 and believed it to be a rare 4500 years old Bronze age settlement and later a Canaanite city that explains the relation between ancient Egypt and the Levantine region. </p> <p>Despite the courageous protests by activists, archeologists, and historians in the Gaza strip the bulldozing of the site continued, until dozens of Gazans protested physically on the site. A high-rank decision from the PA minister of tourism was made and almost <a href="https://www.arab48.com/%E2%80%8F%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA/%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1/2017/10/14/-%D8%AA%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%83%D9%86--%D9%85%D9%88%D9%82%D8%B9-%D8%A3%D8%AB%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%85%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%84-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9-%D9%88%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87">blocked the national reconciliation</a> between Hamas and Fatah. </p> <p>Hamas's high-rank employees intimidated activists. The anger of Gaza's youth is an indication of the rift that is growing between Hamas’ doctrine and that led by young activists. The week long standoff this October showed the victory of history over ignorance.</p> <p lang="en-US">But Tal al-Sakan is not the only site, another site that has been destroyed is <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1525/aa.1932.34.3.02a00340/asset/aa.1932.34.3.02a00340.pdf;jsessionid=03393D64E1E08C14B39878DF3AB692F3.f04t03?v=1&amp;t=j92r8h07&amp;s=80098ba74163318c72dc82e4e4349163c6540bba">Tal Al-Ajjul</a>. This is the site of the ancient Gaza city, 4200 years old. It was an extension to the commercial port between Asia and Africa during the 1200s BC. It has been named the second oldest Canaanite city after Tal Al-Sakan. Tall al-Ajjul acquired its name from a golden calf. In 1933, British archaeologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/palestine-ancient-gaza-neglected-razed-antiquities.html?bt_ts=1469464363325">discovered</a> gold jewelry, ornamental objects, palaces and horse stables there. The site was razed by a Gazan family in order to build a house after the Swedish archeologist <a href="http://www.fischerarchaeology.se/?page_id=15">Peter Fischer</a> asked the family to excavate the site. Their fear that the government in Gaza would take the land from them urged them to destroy an ancient site.</p> <p>In 2013, <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/04/what-happened-gaza-apollo-statue-palestine-201446121144821249.html">a bronze statue of Apollo</a>, the ancient Greek god of light and music, miraculously surfaced in Gaza. A fisherman, Jawdat Abu Grab, found the statue while fishing in the Deir Al Balah area. A few days later, the statue disappeared, forever. According to Hamas’s department of antiquities, “the statute has been taken by Hamas’s police” in 2013 and <a href="http://samanews.ps/ar/post/221117/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88-%D9%8A%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A3%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">never been seen afterwards</a>. A few weeks later, the statue briefly <a href="http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/192513/mystery-of-lost-2000-year-old-bronze-apollo-statue/">appeared on e</a><a href="http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/192513/mystery-of-lost-2000-year-old-bronze-apollo-statue/">Bay</a> with a $500,000 price tag. Some anonymous sources informed the writer that one of Hamas’ military wing leaders seized the statue and claimed it has been<a href="http://samanews.ps/ar/post/221117/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88-%D9%8A%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A3%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9"> destroyed during </a><a href="http://samanews.ps/ar/post/221117/%D8%A7%D8%AE%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85-%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%84%D9%88-%D9%8A%D8%AB%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A3%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">the 2014</a> Gaza war.</p> <p>Another site suffering from negligence is <a href="https://www.pal24.net/news/72954.html">Tal Um Amer or St. Hilarion</a>. The site is characterized by five successive churches, bath and sanctuary complexes, geometric mosaics, and an expansive crypt. This Christian monastery was one of the largest in the Middle East. It is now used sometimes by neighbors as dumping site. Moreover, the private land surrounding the site has been completely razed and new <a href="https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.815965">private homes and building</a><a href="https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.815965">s</a> have risen up. This implies that other historical and ancient monuments must have been destroyed considering the very negligible distance between St. Hilarion and the cement buildings.</p> <p lang="en-US">In 2016, a <a href="https://www.eremnews.com/entertainment/464651">Byzantine church</a> was found while construction workers were operating in the site. The findings include segments of marble pillars with ornate Corinthian capitals and a foundation stone bearing a Greek symbol for Christ. Fifteen pieces have been uncovered. However, the discoveries were left on the street in Gaza for some time. No further excavations were done and no archeologists were engaged in the process. The church and its history <a href="https://arabi21.com/story/900048/%D8%A7%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%81-%D8%A2%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%83%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%B7%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%AD%D9%81%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%A8%D9%86%D9%89-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">have been dumped in exchange </a><a href="https://arabi21.com/story/900048/%D8%A7%D9%83%D8%AA%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%81-%D8%A2%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%83%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B2%D9%86%D8%B7%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%AB%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%AD%D9%81%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%A8%D9%86%D9%89-%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">for money</a> to Gaza’s de facto government.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left" lang="en-US">Where are the findings of many excavations, coins, manuscripts and other materials?</p><p lang="en-US">In 2013, Hamas’s military wing bulldozed part of of the ancient Gaza <a href="http://www.maannews.net/Content.aspx?id=578627">Anthedon Harbour</a> in Northern Gaza. The harbour dates back over 3,000 years to the Mycenaean era, and is considered <a href="http://alresalah.ps/ar/post/147956/alresalah.ps/ar/category/7">one of the most important sites</a> in the Middle East, in addition to being the oldest harbour in Gaza. In 2012, UNESCO designated the harbour as an international heritage site. Moreover, Hamas’ de facto police have <a href="https://pssawa.com/p/24634/%D8%B4%D8%A7%D9%87%D8%AF-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%B6%D8%A8%D8%B7-%D8%A2%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%88%D9%88%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%82-%D8%A3%D8%AB%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A9">arrested a Palestinian who looted</a> and hid 75 envelops with ancient manuscripts and antiquities. However, informal sources claimed that Hamas’s police raided the house to seize the antiquities without explaining where they will be kept. Since then, the manuscripts and the antiquities have vanished.</p> <p>In 2015, while Gaza’s municipality workers in Shejaia were installing pipelines, they discovered <a href="https://pssawa.com/p/2592/%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%B6%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B9%D8%AA-%D8%A8%D9%8020-%D8%B4%D9%8A%D9%83%D9%84-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AE%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%AB%D9%88%D8%B1-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%87%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%B4%D9%81-%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A7-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%B7%D9%86-%D8%B3%D8%B1-%D9%83%D9%86%D8%B2-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%A9">hundreds of ancient golden and silver coins</a> in pottery vessels. The vessels were taken by Gaza’s police, collecting the coins from Shejaia residents door-to-door. Yet, no one explained where the coins and vessels are.</p> <p>The list continues with much evidence that shows how reckless Hamas and its de-facto government are towards antiquities and historical sites. It also raises the questions about where the findings of many excavations, coins, manuscripts and other materials are. Are they still in Gaza or have they been sold and smuggled by people in power in the Hamas government or somewhere else?</p> <p> Despite that, there are hopes in the besieged Gaza. While the Israeli army and its collaborators were stealing Gaza antiquities, other Gazans were digging, excavating, and protecting their history. There are examples of people who dedicated their lives to history and antiquities. <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/10/palestine-gaza-sculptor-art-exposure-tourism-israel-blockade.html">Nafez Abed</a> from Shati camp is one of them. His precision and professionalism in copying and restoring ancient artifacts was mastered during his times in Israeli jails. Waleed Al-Aqqda, from the south of Gaza collected around <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/iw/originals/2014/10/gaza-museums-antiquities-destroyed-israel.amp.html">5,000 antiquities</a> dating back to the Bronze, Stone, Roman, Byzantine and Modern ages. <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/12/gaza-palestinian-heritage-museum-artifacts.html">Marwan Shahwan</a> from Khanyouis has turned his basement into an archeological museum that has more than 10,000 pieces that he has collected during the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip.</p> <p>What we are observing now in the Gaza Strip reveals the role of social media and those who are in forced or voluntary exile as well as the people of Gaza, who have moved quickly and mobilized to protect their heritage. If they were not able to win against the political divisions they were able to reject that their history and antiquities be another victim of the political ravening of Hamas. Their efforts should be institutionalized and empowered by legal instruments that punish and reward. Gaza's youth are the real combatants who will protect their heritage and their society from extremism. A nation that does not protect its heritage and antiquities, allows the erasure of its history, and destroys its own rights to own that land.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anas-iqtait/decentralization-of-palestinian-national-discourse">The decentralization of Palestinian national discourse</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/anya-evans/palestinian-winemaking-under-occupation">Palestinian winemaking under occupation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/louise-brown/gaza-border-controls-frustration-despair-and-death">Gaza border controls: frustration, despair and death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/alex-delmar-morgan/gaza-trauma-unit">Mental help: the story of Gaza’s trauma unit</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Civil society Culture Hamas history Gaza Abdalhadi Alijla Thu, 26 Oct 2017 12:43:14 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 114268 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gaza: a city no one wants https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/gaza-city-no-one-wants <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Gazans have been abandoned and left in the hands of Hamas to do with them as they please. This policy is transforming Gaza slowly but steadily into a hotbed of radicals.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-20804706.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gaza City Psychiatric Hospital 2002. Marco Di Lauro/Press Association. All rights reserved. "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-20804706.jpg" alt="Gaza City Psychiatric Hospital 2002. Marco Di Lauro/Press Association. All rights reserved. " title="Gaza City Psychiatric Hospital 2002. Marco Di Lauro/Press Association. All rights reserved. " width="460" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gaza City Psychiatric Hospital 2002. Marco Di Lauro/Press Association. All rights reserved. </span></span></span><span>As Palestinians commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Nakba, “catastrophe” in Arabic, when the indigenous people of Palestine were driven into exile and the Israeli State was established, a new Nakba takes place. This new Nakba is the political division between Hamas and Fatah.</span></p> <p>The day to day life of the people of Gaza is best represented by the running joke: “Police have arrested a Gazan who has hope”. No hope. No future.</p> <p>The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt recently opened for two days after a three-month closure. Registered travelers numbered at more than 30,000, but Egyptian border security only allowed <a href="http://www.alwatanvoice.com/arabic/news/2016/05/13/917186.html">747</a> into Egypt. A journey, which under usual circumstances should only take five minutes by bus or one hour, including bureaucratic procedures, now takes over 24 hours sometimes 48 hours, leaving hundreds of Palestinians in prison-like areas inside the Egyptian side of the Rafah border, a violation of basic human rights.</p> <p>Egypt ruled Gaza from 1948 until 1967. Since then, Gazans have attended Egypt’s universities, creating a strong bond with Egypt over time. Nowadays, Egypt’s narrative has changed, and Gazans are treated as enemies.</p> <p>Last year I was banned by Israeli security from going to Palestine, yet I received much better treatment than my fellow Palestinians in Egyptian airports and borders. What makes this especially difficult to bear is the fact that Palestinians have never had any conflict with the Egyptian army, compared to Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.</p> <p>The question therefore needs to be asked: why is Egypt treating Palestinians from Gaza so badly? Why does Egypt treat Palestinians as sub-human? Even if it is the norm in Egypt for the government to deal with its own people in such a manner, why is this treatment extended to Palestinians when all they ask is to cross the border to travel onto somewhere else? It seems that Egypt is intent on sending this strong message to all parties: ‘We are not interested in Gaza, Gazans or their troubles; let them suffer away from us’.</p> <p>Gaza's burden is not limited to its southern border, it also extends to Jordan. When the Israeli military started to allow Gazans to travel through Jordan, after receiving military permission to cross from the West Bank, Jordan then tightened its security measures. Not only did they <a href="http://www.wattan.tv/news/173368.html">deny</a> visas for Gazans living in Gaza, but also for Gazans who live in the West Bank. The decision came immediately after Israel’s decision to condition Gazan’s exit to a one-year no return, which is a violation of their human rights. Due to Israel’s decision, Jordan may have felt that a decision was made to hand Gaza to Jordan.</p> <p>However, this does not explain the need for Gazans to issue visas while their counterparts in Jordan can travel whenever they want. Gaza has traditionally been aligned with Egypt and the West Bank with Jordan, so perhaps Palestinians of the West Bank are trusted more than Gazans? This reinforces the premise that Gaza is being treated as a security issue and, by extension, Gazans are seen as a threat to Jordan.</p> <p>Israel too plays a crucial role for Gaza. They have been besieging the Gaza Strip for ten years; its army murdering more than 5000 Palestinians&nbsp;<span>between</span><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/how-many-civilians-have-been-killed-in-gaza">2008 and 2014</a>&nbsp;<span>over the course of three assaults</span><span>. Israel would ultimately like to annex the West Bank, leaving Gaza as the state for the Palestinians. In 1987 Martin Gouterman </span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1988/01/07/opinion/l-gaza-city-state-could-be-singapore-of-mideast-365688.html">suggested</a><span> Gaza become the Singapore of the Middle East.</span></p> <p>In 2004, to avoid negotiations, prevent discussions on refugees, Jerusalem and borders, Sharon’s <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/top-pm-aide-gaza-plan-aims-to-freeze-the-peace-process-1.136686">plan</a> was to stop the creation of a Palestinian state and allow a state in Gaza. The Israeli government is ready to do everything possible to rid itself of Gaza or keep borders closed indefinitely. The issue is not only Hamas, but also the history of the relationship between Gazans and the Occupation.</p> <p>The same goes for the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah’s leadership in Ramallah. They are not interested in taking Gaza back from Hamas. Despite the fact that they are willing to negotiate with Hamas over reconciliation and Hamas' manipulation of national and regional efforts, PA’s leadership cannot guarantee positions, diplomatic employees and governmental advantages not only for Hamas, but even for Gazans.&nbsp;</p> <p>In Ramallah and among the Palestinian leadership, Gaza is seen as scabies no one wants to come close to. This perception is realised by the appointment of high-level employees only in Ramallah. Non-Gazan high ranked employees are the only ones appointed and funded. This belies a hostility not only toward Hamas but also toward Gaza in general, as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are systematically regarded not as one entity, one people and one future-state. </p> <p>It seems that the Gazans have been effectively abandoned and left in the hands of Hamas to do with them as they please. This policy is transforming Gaza, slowly but steadily, into a hotbed of radicals that is bound to explode.</p><p>The division between Hamas and Fatah, the siege on Gaza and the stubborn leadership of Hamas have led to catastrophic consequences in the Gaza Strip: high unemployment, increased rates of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alhayat.com/Articles/14983089/%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D9%85%D8%B9%D8%AF%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9-%D9%8A%D9%82%D9%84%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86">suicide</a>, shortages in power, water and medical supplies, hardships in general wellbeing, higher rates of poverty, a crushing siege on the Gaza strip, increased taxes on necessary goods (imposed by Hamas), corruption, distrust, higher political repression and arbitrary arrests among Gaza’s activists.</p> <p>To avoid such an outcome, action must be taken and now. The world should not regard Gaza as a humanitarian crisis, but rather a political crisis. The PA must deal with Gaza as an entity that belongs to them, and represent the interests and needs of its people.</p> <p>The PA works for a limited group of people who are becoming the new bourgeoisie of Gaza, while the great majority continue to suffer every day. Egypt and Jordan should also rethink how they deal with the population of Gaza. Not all are a security threat; in fact, none of them need pose such a threat if they are granted access to basic human rights.</p> <p>Writer and activist from Rafah, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=525422825&amp;fref=ts">Mahmoud Jouda</a>, wrote the following on his Facebook page:</p> <blockquote><p>“Do not listen to anyone who says there is hope in Gaza. Even if we achieve political reconciliation, it will not work because it is based on a quota-based political division which will fail. Gaza’s problem is bigger than its geographical borders. Gaza is a sinking vessel. The only solution is individual salvation. Jump from the sinking vessel before you die”. </p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;<span>This is the painful reality of Gaza and the story of a city that no one wants.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sam-brennan/isis-and-israel-on-golan-heights">ISIS and Israel on the Golan Heights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/lord-norman-warner/palestine-s-forgotten-children">Palestine’s forgotten children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/suicide-bomber-in-tel-aviv">Peace: a meaningless concept?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/how-i-became-pro-bds-movement">How I became pro BDS</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinian-unity-dream-buried-deep">Palestinian unity: a dream buried deep?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/islamic-state%27s-arrival-in-gaza">The Islamic State&#039;s arrival in Gaza</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Israel Palestine Conflict Democracy and government Equality International politics middle east occupied territories Abdalhadi Alijla You tell us Geopolitics Sun, 12 Jun 2016 13:20:08 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 102885 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Peace: a meaningless concept? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/suicide-bomber-in-tel-aviv <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Netanyahu and suicide bombers represent two sides of the same coin; both lethal and unstoppable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/2868758588_ca90c3da22_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/2868758588_ca90c3da22_z.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Michael Loadenthal. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span><a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-128706/Double-suicide-bombing-Tel-Aviv.html">Recent incidents</a> in Israel and Palestine are clear indications of the demise of the Oslo Accords. A new strategy to halt potential upcoming violence and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA) must be drawn up and fast. </p><p>“Peace” now has no meaning and has been discredited as both a concept and word.&nbsp; Since 1993, “peace” never guaranteed the cessation of killing. After all these years, more and more land has been confiscated, houses demolished, people arrested, killed, and executed. The continuous siege on the Gaza Strip and daily apartheid practices in the West Bank, accompanied with the inequality between the native people of Palestine who have Israeli citizenship and those who do not, does not stop.</p> <p>Since Netanyahu came to power in 1996, peace has become a nauseating word. &nbsp;The Roman historian Tacitus once said of the Roman conquest of Britain that "the Roman army created a desolation, and called it peace". The same is happening to the Palestinians, Arabs, Europeans, Americans and Israelis. Both peace and its process are bleak.</p> <p>As the world was celebrating Christmas; Israel executed <a href="http://maannews.net/Content.aspx?id=817363">four Palestinian teenagers</a> just a few kilometres away from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus. Since October 2015, Israel has <a href="https://www.al-akhbar.com/node/246793">killed</a> over <a href="http://www.qudspress.com/index.php?page=show&amp;id=14294">150 Palestinians</a>, and most of these barbaric acts were captured live on camera. </p> <p><span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Keeping the status-quo as is will increase the numbers of radicals and extremists on both sides.</span></p><p>Recently, wedding guests exemplified a radical segment of Israeli society; a <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/12/israeli-wedding-party-celebrates-dawabsheh-killings-151224051318762.html">video</a> went viral of a group celebrating the death of a Palestinian toddler. An extremist group called, “<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6MklOF3IiU">Price Tag</a>”, burnt the toddler alive. Moreover, Israel has <a href="http://www.eremnews.com/news/world/388675">arrested</a> more than 2400 Palestinians since October. </p> <p>If attacks in Israel continue, it is very likely the Israeli government will react and either occupy the West Bank and/or launch new aggression on the Gaza Strip. This will lead to the collapse of the PA, and a weakening of the de-facto shadow-government led by Hamas. Palestinians already have no trust in Fatah, Hamas and the PA in general. The current level of oppression, deadlock in peace, severe injustice, and the frustration among Palestinians is increasing and will perplex the whole situation. The other alternative is more radicalisation and extremism, and eventually fertile land for ISIS like-minded factions or groups. </p> <p>Obviously, this will rewind the clock back to the pre-Oslo Accords period. However, the result is not likely to be the same. The international community will not accept continuous military occupation, and parts of Israeli society do not want to bear the price of its army’s madness. To do injustice then is to abandon the two state solution. </p> <p>Numerous intellectuals, writers and activists are widely labelling Israel as an <a href="http://www.mintpressnews.com/noam-chomsky-israeli-apartheid-much-worse-than-south-africa/208936/">apartheid state</a> and for this label to stick and be recognised internationally, the road and struggle are long and extremely difficult. </p> <p>The alternative is to keep the status-quo as is, which in turn will increase the numbers of radicals and extremists on both sides. Regardless of the outcome, Netanyahu is playing with a ticking time bomb that will not only harm him but the entire region. All his actions are de-legitimising Israel, and empowering radicals and extremists. </p> <p>Both Netanyahu and suicide bombers represent two sides of the same coin; both lethal and unstoppable.</p> <p>It is of great importance to concentrate efforts in combating Netanyahu and his extremist government. With international pressure, mass non-violent demonstrations, the boycott of Israeli products, sanctioning Israel globally, and confronting Israeli apartheid through international trials, there may be hope.</p> <p>Netanyahu and his government must be held accountable and stopped from fuelling hatred. Their actions are loudly echoing their disinterest in peace and they must be stopped.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/how-i-became-pro-bds-movement">How I became pro BDS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinian-unity-dream-buried-deep">Palestinian unity: a dream buried deep?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/islamic-state%27s-arrival-in-gaza">The Islamic State&#039;s arrival in Gaza</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/abdalhadi-alijla/oslo-twenty-years-later">Oslo twenty years later</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics occupation occupied territories Abdalhadi Alijla You tell us Violent transitions Mon, 25 Jan 2016 10:07:08 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 99294 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How I became pro BDS https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/how-i-became-pro-bds-movement <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Israelis will only wake up to their government’s discriminatory policies when they feel the effects of the BDS movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/2817913.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Pro-Palestinian activists protest at John Lewis. Mark Kerrison/Demotix. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/2817913.jpg" alt="Pro-Palestinian activists protest at John Lewis. Mark Kerrison/Demotix. All rights reserved." title="Pro-Palestinian activists protest at John Lewis. Mark Kerrison/Demotix. All rights reserved." width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pro-Palestinian activists protest at John Lewis. Mark Kerrison/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p><span>Events have a far reaching impact. People share them on social media, writers and journalists report and visualise them, historians contextualise them, social scientists analyse them and philosophers and intellectuals interpret them.</span></p> <p>Recently,&nbsp;<span>Israeli and international agencies&nbsp;</span><span>extensively reported on&nbsp;</span><span>the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)&nbsp;</span><span>movement&nbsp;</span><span>against the Israeli occupation. Back in 2005, BDS was founded by Palestinians to pressure Israel to end the occupation, adopting non-violent means. At the time negligible,&nbsp;if any, concern was paid to BDS and Israeli officials&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=1447">claim</a></span><a href="http://www.pij.org/details.php?id=1447">ed</a><span> it would not work.</span></p> <p>Nowadays, the Israeli far right and Zionists view BDS as an <a href="http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4663436,00.html">existential</a> threat to Israel, calling for war against the movement and its activists. The main goal of BDS is to end Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Arab land; dismantle the Wall, recognise the fundamental rights of Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel; and respect, protect and promote the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in the UN resolution 194.&nbsp;</p> <p>The idea of BDS is admirable as a non-violent campaign, and the disappointment that motivated the call for BDS is clear. After more than fifteen years of negotiations, uninterrupted settlement expansion, increasing segregation and growing racism against the Palestinian citizens of Israel, there was a need for a new strategy that held Israel accountable for its actions, and pushed for a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I was extremely skeptical about the BDS movement’s agenda for a very long time. I was against boycotting Israeli products and academics, due to lack of official support from western governments and civil society organisations. Besides, my fear was that the aim was to engage Palestinians in collaborations with Israelis who reject the basic rights of Palestinian refugees in the diaspora, by seeking alternative and secondary solutions to prevent their right of return.</p> <p>Moreover, the ambiguity of BDS’ goals suggested that it was a weak initiative, in my opinion. However, after many years, I now see how effective it can be, as it engages those who support a one-state solution, like myself, as well as those who are in favor of a two-state solution. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I do not define myself as a pro-Palestinian activist; rather, as a person who is Palestinian born to Palestinian parents, and who has inherited the legacy, culture and suffrage of Palestinians. Moreover, I adopt the notion of ‘Palestinianism’ where free men and women defend and stand by the oppressed against the violation of human rights everywhere. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>My views shifted last March, when I went, as a Swedish-Palestinian academic born in the Gaza Strip, on a visit to the Middle East. Our goal was to build cooperation networks with academic institutions in the region, which included Egypt, Jordan and Palestine.&nbsp;</p> <p>After prosperous meetings in both Egypt and Jordan, I traveled over Allenby Bridge to the West Bank (the only connection it has to the outside world) to meet scholars, independent researchers and professors at the three main universities in the West Bank. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>When I arrived at the bridge, I was supposed to cross the border with no restrictions. Even though I am a Swedish citizen, the Israeli army, intelligence and security agencies showed me how dreadful is to wait, be interrogated, yelled at, and inhumanly treated.</p> <p>What I witnessed at the hands of the Israeli authorities was horrifying, unbearable and unacceptable harassment. I was held for more than seven hours in a room where I was interrogated by the Shabak, Shin Beit, Israeli army and border control about myself, my family, my childhood, the purpose of the visit and how I got out of Sweden. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>They denied my entry into the West Bank under the pretext of “prevention of illegal immigration”. Seriously? And the second reason was my "security and public safety" threat.</p> <p>Do they really think that an academic could possibly be harmful and/or threatening? Is my pen dangerous? Or my Palestinian roots? &nbsp;</p><p><span>This is one of the reasons I now support BDS.&nbsp;The other is Israel’s recent elections.&nbsp;By voting for Netanyahu’s radical far-right coalition, Israeli society is sending a clear message that they support racism, discrimination, and the occupation.</span></p> <p>But why I do believe that BDS may actually work? &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Durable and just peace and coexistence cannot be achieved by arbitrary and discriminatory policies, but by allowing dialogue through various channels. By denying Palestinian academics and students the right to travel to different parts of the world to pursue their academic journeys, Israel incites more violence and increases frustration among Palestinians.&nbsp;</p> <p>International political pressure on the Israeli government has not achieved anything. Non-violent pressure will affect every voter in Israel. They will only start to react to their government’s policies as soon as they themselves are affected by their own government’s policies and discriminations.</p> <p>When an Israeli academic is not invited to participate in a conference, denied opportunity to publish in academic journals under the name of an Israeli institution, then he/she will feel what it is like to be deprived of your basic rights. The same applies to businessmen who invest in the occupied territories, then sell their products as Israeli in Europe or the USA.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>BDS is the only option left for the Palestinians, their supporters and the international activists that defend a peaceful solution to these major human rights violations. We must expand BDS activities to engage as many people and sectors as possible. This message needs to be sent to every Israeli: they are paying the price for what they do to Palestinians.</p> <p>Yes, it may take ten or twenty years to achieve something tangible, but more than twenty years were lost as the Palestinians tried to negotiate their portion of the pizza—the&nbsp;West Bank.</p> <p>For real change to take place, every Israeli must feel the effects of the BDS movement, as peace is not achievable with a state that considers itself above international law. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/sarah-carr/what-is-your-occupation">What is your occupation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinian-unity-dream-buried-deep">Palestinian unity: a dream buried deep?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/islamic-state%27s-arrival-in-gaza">The Islamic State&#039;s arrival in Gaza</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/abdalhadi-alijla/oslo-twenty-years-later">Oslo twenty years later</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Israel Conflict Equality International politics Palestine and the Israeli Occupation BDS Abdalhadi Alijla You tell us Sun, 21 Jun 2015 07:26:42 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 93716 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Palestinian unity: a dream buried deep? https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/palestinian-unity-dream-buried-deep <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Neither Fatah nor Hamas are willing to accept power sharing, and the&nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.5;">division between them is no longer merely ideological in nature.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/4534053.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/4534053.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">Palestinian women rally for peace between Fatah and Hamas. Yazan Majdi/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></p><p>Almost eight years ago, destructive clashes erupted in the Gaza Strip between the Palestinians <a href="http://www.alyaum.com/article/2498792">themselves</a>. Hamas and the Islamic Movement were against both Fatah and the Palestinian National Authority’s (PNA) forces.</p> <p>The result of this internal conflict was not only several thousands of casualties, including journalists, academics, militants and leaders, but also a political disaster comparable to the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Palestinian_exodus">Nakba in 1948</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hamas, after winning parliamentary elections in 2006, was unable to rule due to their self-inflicted political and financial barriers. At the time, the international community and the Middle East Quartet (Russia, USA, EU, UN),&nbsp;<span>asked Hamas to recognize Israel and abandon violence&nbsp;</span><span>as a condition to pay PNA employee salaries. These employees were basically members or activists of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).</span></p> <p>In 2007, as a result of the continued provocations carried out by a PA force established by <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammed_Dahlan">Mohammed Dahlan</a> to overthrow the elected Hamas government, Hamas retaliated using all means to gain control of the Gaza Strip, killing dozens of Fatah members.</p> <p>For many years, it seemed that Dahlan was the most wanted and loathed person by Hamas. Several statements they issued in 2007-2008 clearly <a href="http://www.turess.com/alwasat/6289">stated</a> that their military actions were solely against Dahlan and his junta.</p> <p>However, they were misleading the people, and in a very short period of time killed dozens of members of renowned families in Gaza as well as dozens of members of its rival Islamic parties, such as the Salafis and Islamic Jihad. As time passed, it became clear that Hamas was only interested in ruling Gaza, not fighting Dahlan or corruption.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>As violence erupted, the Arab League, Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi governments mediated to avoid even more catastrophy, and Fatah and Hamas came to the negotiating table alongside Palestinian factions in Cairo and other Arab countries.</p> <p>Prior to the “coup” in 2007, known as the Battle of Gaza, Palestinian political groups signed two power sharing and PLO reform agreements. Unfortunately, the principal agreement, the “Mecca Agreement”, was doomed in less than a month, as both Hamas and Fatah were clearly not ready to share power.</p> <p>Hamas felt that the USA and EU were trying to bypass their electoral victory, as they directly dispatched finances to President Mahmoud Abbas’ office, supported the special forces led by Dahlan, and most importantly, somehow managed to shift public opinion in Palestine against Hamas.</p> <p>When Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, it appointed its loyalists in both the public and civil sectors. New governmental institutions were created with their own employees, structure and hierarchy.</p> <p>Prior to 2007, Hamas and Fatah had opposing ideologies. Since 2007, the differences between Hamas and Fatah and the PNA have been both ideological and institutional in nature. The settings and management of public policies and large human capacity prevent Hamas from bargaining bureaucratically with Fatah and the PA.</p> <p>Hamas does not want to loose the minimal community support it has, especially in the aftermath of its wrongdoings in the Gaza Strip, and the unbearable humanitarian situation that resulted due to its miscalculations during the previous eight years.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>The long series of meetings and agreements are a clear indication that both parties, as well as their members, do not trust each other. A desire for revenge on Hamas’ fighters who killed Fatah members continues to linger.</p> <p>Blocking Hamas’ financial channels played a decisive role in forcing it to go for a unity government.&nbsp;<span>This funding was affected by numerous factors, such as Hamas’ stance towards the Syrian uprising and their accusation of the Syrian regime, which did not please Iran, a strong ally of the Syrian regime. Iran, as a result, stopped its funding, which had started in 2002 when Hamas lost its Gulf funders after 9/11.</span></p> <p>Another crucial turning point was when the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt were closed. These tunnels averted Hamas’s ability to smuggle financial resources needed to sustain power. At this point, Hamas was no longer able to benefit from the taxes on goods smuggled from Egypt and as a result were unable to pay salaries to their employees for several months.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>This is why Hamas has surprisingly started to utter tones of acceptance of Mohammed Dahlan. They met his loyalists and facilitated his wife’s visit to the Gaza Strip. Moreover, they organized joint events including group weddings for Gazans.</p> <p>Of course, Dahlan supported this due to his rival in the West Bank, President Mahmoud Abbas, accusing him of breaking the law, participating in killing many leaders and poisoning Arafat.</p> <p>More recently, after several meetings since August 2014, Hamas and Iran appear to be reconciling. Iran is willing to continue funding Hamas, mainly the military wing and the hard line of Hamas’ leadership, Al-Zahar. <em>&nbsp;</em>The reason for this is that Hamas has two blocs; the hardcore bloc led by Al-Zahar in Gaza is loyal to Iran; and another bloc led by by Khalid Misha’al that isn’t.</p> <p>On the other hand, with current regional political changes, Saudi authorities have been calling Hamas’ leadership to take part in the new regional Sunni coalition they are trying to form with Turkey and Egypt against Iran. A clear sign of this is the war against Yemen's Houthis.</p> <p>If Hamas accepts to stand with the Saudi coalition, the prize will be the Gaza Strip. Saudi Arabia can seduce Hamas by giving them the Gaza Strip with the help of Egypt, the US and Israel, as long as Hamas keeps the Gaza front calm. The coalition can convince Abbas to manage the Palestinian division by sharing power with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Of course, the Palestinian people are not taken into consideration in all these plans.</p> <p>Another factor that stands against ending Palestinian division is the security issue and the armed militias. Hamas will not accept the return of the PA forces as they were prior to 2007; the PA and Fatah will not accept that Hamas keeps its weapons and militias as they are now. </p><p>Abbas, supported by many Arab nations and of course Israel, aims to de-militarize Hamas and the other militias. The two agendas will certainly not meet, and this is where the division will never end.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Based on the above, it appears that nothing is going to change. Abbas’ advisor’s recent call on Arab forces to crack down on Hamas, and Hamas’ strong comeback are indicators that both sides are not willing to accept power sharing.&nbsp;</p> <p>Furthermore, the latest statements by Hamas, where the PA was <a href="http://arabi21.com/story/814462/%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D8%AA%D8%AA%D9%87%D9%85-%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D8%A8%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A5%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%AA%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%88%D8%A5%D8%B9%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">accused</a> of wanting security instability in the Gaza Strip, and the PA’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/middleeast/2015/03/150314_palestine_fatah_hamas_dispute">response</a>, which was very unpleasant to say the least, further solidify that neither Fatah nor Hamas want to bridge the gap. Their intention seems to be to widen it strongly and consistently. </p> <p>As such, the division between Fatah and Hamas is no longer of ideological nature. It is deeply rooted in the institutional capacities of both parties.</p> <p>The hope to have real unity with one political strategy, one government and one legitimate authority sadly cannot be foreseen.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/islamic-state%27s-arrival-in-gaza">The Islamic State&#039;s arrival in Gaza</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/abdalhadi-alijla/oslo-twenty-years-later">Oslo twenty years later</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/abdalhadi-alijla/road-to-federal-consociationalism">The road to federal consociationalism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Saudi Arabia </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Egypt Syria Iran Saudi Arabia Palestine Israel Conflict Democracy and government International politics Palestine and the Israeli Occupation Middle East Fatah Hamas Abdalhadi Alijla You tell us Violent transitions Geopolitics Sat, 02 May 2015 11:06:58 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 92412 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Women and the Arab Spring: a dream turned nightmare https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/women-and-arab-spring-dream-turned-nightmare <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Change must start from within each individual. As quoted in the Quran, “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” &nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>At first, opportunistically then pragmatically, a growing number of us thought that the Arab Spring would enhance women rights in the MENA region.</span></p> <p>Though we are acutely aware of the pace of such a development, the speed at which it has deteriorated is quite shocking. The dream of women being effective participants in political, economic and social life in the post-Arab Spring countries has been crushed.</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1792128-2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/1792128-2.jpg" alt="Demonstrators hold posters of women sexually harassed during mass protests." title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Demonstrators hold posters of women sexually harassed during mass protests. Demotix/Mayada Wadnomiri. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>From a blooming chance for women to claim their rights, dreams and be active participants in the political sphere, to smashed spirits that have been left behind hopeless under authoritarian regimes in deeply enshrined patriarchal societies. In countries like Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Palestine, the fight seems to have disappeared.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In some countries, on the surface it appears that women’s rights issues are being addressed, however, a deeper look indicates that it’s only ink on paper, if even that. The day-to-day life of a woman in the Middle East has become unbearable and dangerous.</p> <p>Leading up to and during the Arab Spring, women were actively leading protests and demonstrations but they were targeted by their regimes in an attempt to squash the uprisings.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In Syria, more than <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Syrian.Revolution.Statistics/photos/a.358777750877973.90132.358020180953730/725010330921378/?type=1&amp;theater">16,000 women</a> have been martyred and hundreds of thousands either harmed or jailed. In the last year, they were targeted by the so called the Islamic State and the other terrorist groups. The videos, photos and stories being revealed about the practices against women are horrific.</p> <p>Before Syria’s break into civil war, Syrian women were among the <a href="http://www.unesco.org/education/uie/pdf/country/arab_world.pdf">most educated</a> (Literacy rate) in the Arab world, with <a href="http://www.mokarabat.com/rep.nesasy.htm">high rates</a> of political engagement and participation, <a href="http://www.news.com.au/world/five-things-you-never-knew-about-syria-before-the-war/story-fndir2ev-1226849451251">freedom in life style</a> and more importantly, <a href="http://www.mafhoum.com/press8/241E13.htm">steps</a> were being taken for political reform in increasing women’s participation in parliament.</p> <p>However, as the situation continues to deteriorate, Syrian women are now exiled in refugee’s camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon living in dire conditions. The few lucky ones have made it to the platforms of Milano Centrale in the hopes for asylum in Scandinavia.</p> <p><strong>In Iraq</strong>, on the other hand, women suffered from the dictatorship, and their malaise has tripled after the American invasion.&nbsp;<span>Following the eruption of sectarian conflict between the Shiaa and Sunni groups, and the outgrowth of militias, women are paying the highest price as the threats of rape, murder, imprisonment and torture become day-to-day fears.</span></p> <p>Women are also deprived from other social rights as the Iraqi constitution <a href="http://www.hrw.org/ar/news/2014/03/26-2">delegates</a> women's rights to the different ethnic groups. The 1949 Iraqi constitution was much more progressive with regards to women rights than the one Iraq has now. Over the years, the discrimination and harassment against Iraqi women has only increased.</p> <p><strong>In Egypt</strong>, women were some of the first to revolt, calling for protests against Mubarak's regime. They struggled alongside men to get rid of a 30-year dictatorship. However, they are now victims of a political and social struggle.</p> <p>Although women’s rights were not at the top of the Mubarak agenda, since the fall of the Mubarak regime women rights groups have been further de-legitimized and thrown out of the legal framework.</p> <p>Since 2013 women have paid a hefty price; the regime has imprisoned hundreds in order to stop protests demanding political and social rights. Shaimaa El Sabbagh, for example, was <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/world/middleeast/shaimaa-el-sabbagh-tahrir-square-killing-angers-egyptians.html?_r=0">shot dead</a> during a peaceful march with flowers to Tahrir Square on the anniversary of the revolution in January 2015. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>In Tunisia</strong>, what seems to be the most liberal country in North Africa, women are not expected to make a breakthrough in political to social rights. In reality, the liberalism that women enjoy could quite easily disappear in a matter of a few years, because what we are seeing now is a result of top-down policies set in place by the former president of Tunisia who called for secularism and not as a result of social interaction and struggle between the different fractions of society.</p> <p>Similarly in Yemen, Bahrain, Palestine and the rest of the Arab World. The only differences are the numbers of women killed, imprisoned, raped or tortured.</p> <p>According to Varieties of Democracy Institute (<a href="http://www.v-dem.net">V-dem</a>) women’s access to justice in Arab countries has sharply decreased after 2011. In the absence of access to justice, women are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their basic rights, fight against discrimination and harassment or even be active participants in political and social spheres.</p> <p><span>Has the Arab Spring betrayed women? The answer is simple, yes.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>No society will ever progress and develop without respecting women’s rights, and engaging women in top-level decision-making. No matter how rich the country is, women are the main pillars of society and their role must be equal to that of men.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>For genuine shifts to take place with regards to women’s positions in their respective societies, change must start from within each individual. As quoted in the Quran, “Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” &nbsp;</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Iraq Syria Egypt Culture Democracy and government Equality Middle East Abdalhadi Alijla You tell us Revolution Religion and human rights Fri, 20 Mar 2015 19:32:52 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 91397 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Islamic State's arrival in Gaza https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/abdalhadi-alijla/islamic-state%27s-arrival-in-gaza <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>With a never-ending siege on Gaza, the economic capacity of Palestinians has shrunk to an unbearable limit where families struggle to feed their children. A breeding ground is thereby created for extremism and radical ideologies.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/6823456.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/6823456.jpg" alt="Armed faction protest in Gaza Strip,February, 2015. " title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Armed faction protest in Gaza Strip,February, 2015. Nidal Alwaheidi/Demotix. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>A group of Palestinians in Gaza recently took to the streets in Gaza City in protest against the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo. They felt, as practically every single Muslim would, whether moderate, radical or even non-religious, frustrated.</p> <p>The odd thing was that photos of the three perpetrators who committed this horrendous crime in Paris as well as slogans by Osama Bin Laden were raised in this demonstration. They stated, “If your freedom of speech has no limit, then you must accept our actions”. However, the most surprising were the flags and slogans of the Islamic State.</p> <p>An outsider may think it normal that the Islamic State is present in the Gaza Strip: however reality is rather different. There is no Islamic State or any group with military power in the Gaza Strip. There is only one group that exports, maintains and restricts the activities of radicals and radicalism, which is Hamas.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Without Hamas’ approval, there wouldn’t be any protests or demonstrations. There are very few individuals who adopt the principles and ideologies of the Islamic State or Al-Qaeda.<span>Thus, this demonstration seems to have been orchestrated by Hamas to send a message to Israel, Egypt and the west; it’s either Hamas or the alternative: the Islamic State. Period.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>However, Gaza is home to some radicals or “Jihadist-Salafis” who were affiliated to Al-Qaeda and now to the Islamic State. Many Palestinians from the Gaza Strip were killed in Syria, fighting along the Islamic State and Al-Nusra group and some are affiliated with the Islamic State or Al-Qaeda.</p> <p>In 2006, Hamas and “Islam’s army” <a href="http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/153219">kidnapped the Israeli soldier</a> Gilad Shalit. They worked together until 2008 when Hamas broke all ties on assuming responsibility as the governing body of the Gaza Strip after the coup d’état in 2007.</p> <p>In 2009, Hamas <a href="http://www.aljazeera.net/news/arabic/2009/8/14/%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%86%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A5%D9%85%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D8%B3%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%BA%D8%B2%D8%A9">attacked a mosque</a> of the “Soldiers of the Supporters' of Allah‎” in Rafah city, who had declared Rafah an Islamic state during Friday prayers. Hamas’ police <a href="http://www.alriyadh.com/452515">killed eight of the militants</a>, their spiritual leader and a Syrian Jihadist.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In 2011, three terrorists, among them a Jordanian jihadist, <a href="http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/10154">kidnapped a humanitarian and peace activist</a>, Vittorio Arrigoni, killing him hours later.</p> <p>In the last war in the Gaza Strip, there were unidentified bodies, which indicated that they could have been foreign fighters.</p> <p>The question is, what made these individuals become radical? Why would they leave Gaza to fight in another country with the Israeli occupation at their doorstep? And why have the others who protested in recent weeks not left to join them in Syria, for example?</p> <p>Prior to 2005, Gaza had not witnessed such radical groups nor extremist ideologies. In the wake of the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, groups of Salifis founded associations across the Gaza Strip, which were officially registered. These groups were mainly non-violent at the beginning and they worked hard to recruit youth. Their funding&nbsp;<span>as well as their religious guidance</span><span>&nbsp;mainly comes from Saudi Arabia.</span></p> <p>By the end of 2005, their ideology started to shift towards violent extremism as a result of the siege on the Gaza Strip by both Israel and Egypt. Egypt banned thousands of Palestinians from using the Rafah crossing, even though it was open. The security black list was full of Islamists, mainly from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel closed the Gaza Strip, allowing few political elites and traders to move in and out through Erez before the full closure began in 2006.</p> <p>With such a siege, the economic capacity of Palestinians who lived in Gaza fell to an unbearable level where families could no longer feed their children. This created a breeding ground for extremism and radical ideologies. The mobilization of people in such dire circumstance was an easy job for Hamas, Islamic jihad movements and radical groups. A simple approach was to support these families in need with food vouchers for example, when no one else cared.</p> <p>Vulnerable Gazans were victims to the economic situation. Even their social fabric was affected: divorce rates increased steadily, female student enrollment at universities declined heavily; new social classes emerged, where a few people enjoyed more privileges than others - mainly NGO workers or employees of the Palestinian Authority loyal to Abbas who receive salaries while cooped up in their homes.</p> <p>Although many Palestinians in Gaza are able to travel and study abroad, they couldn’t because of the unpredictable financial situation and the tight grip on the Gaza Strip.</p> <p>Radicalism comes as no surprise with all of these factors playing a significant role in a territory smaller than 360 square kilometers with more than 1,800,000 inhabitants, half of whom are under the age of 40, with no economic opportunities or hopes for a better future. The temptation to shift to more radical stances in anticipation of an improved livelihood comes as no surprise.</p> <p>Gaza has been under siege since 2005. People are hopeless and frustrated, struggling to survive. They will seek an economic haven from anyone who is willing to help. As such, it comes as no surprise to see Islamic State flags in Gaza.</p> <p>The world must pay attention. Hamas are politically immature and their childlike behavior may lead to catastrophic situations, which may result in Gaza becoming a base for an offshoot of ISIS.&nbsp;</p><p>The west should start negotiating with Hamas and engaging them in a political process with President Abbas to avoid paying an even &nbsp;higher price in the future.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/abdalhadi-alijla/oslo-twenty-years-later">Oslo twenty years later</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/abdalhadi-alijla/road-to-federal-consociationalism">The road to federal consociationalism</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> North Africa, West Asia North-Africa West-Asia Syria Egypt Israel Palestine occupied territories Abdalhadi Alijla Charlie Hebdo You tell us Violent transitions Fri, 06 Feb 2015 23:38:35 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 90008 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Oslo twenty years later https://www.opendemocracy.net/abdalhadi-alijla/oslo-twenty-years-later <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As a young Palestinian, I can’t help but reflect on the ‘solutions’ that have passed in my lifetime.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>This year marks twenty years since the Oslo accords. Yet the world has almost seemed to reshape itself this year. Wars and political differences have spun most of the Middle East into what we know and see today: countries and their dignitaries abroad scrambling to find any sort of solution that may ‘stop the bleeding’ from the bullet hole made in the flesh of the Arab people. As a young Palestinian, I can’t help but reflect on the ‘solutions’ that have passed in my lifetime. </p> <p>I was a young boy when the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), signed the Accords, but old enough to remember the celebrations (despite the Israeli occupation) staged in the streets of the Gaza Strip. We were welcoming and trusting as Palestinians, eager to end the occupation. How beautiful to have our own state! Mothers free to let their children play without fear, without the worry that their husbands might not return home that night.</p> <p>As I watch the international media call for a speedy response to the use of chemical weapons, I cannot help but think that this western world has forgotten about the malaise and Nakba (catastrophe) of the Palestinians caused by Israel. This world has brought us to the cold chopping block that we lie on today. Our Arab brothers, more beholden to the power hungry giants of the world, abandoned us…sold us like property to the highest bidder. The Palestinians were left isolated and alone. </p><p>Going back to the late 1980’s and the 1990’s, the Palestinian leadership had little room for manoeuvre to deploy in their political struggle. The Palestinians were left paralyzed after refusing many offers. I can say that personally speaking, I too would’ve refused: having lost all of Palestine, how would you feel if someone came to you to bargain with you for the land they have stolen? You would at least wonder if the word ‘negotiations’ had taken on a new meaning. Or would you perhaps ask yourself if this was just the false front Israel wanted the world to see…this pretence that our neighbours wanted a peaceful passage? </p> <p>Whatever, we thought, after being abandoned by our brothers, we were tortured, murdered and transferred from Kuwait and other Gulf countries. We were in Tunisia, conditionally, but we were explicitly forbidden to mount any military activities against Israel. We had no exit…except one, Oslo: as Edward Said said, “<a href="http://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/edward-said/the-morning-after">We had no alternative because we either lost or threw away a lot of others, leaving us only this one</a>”.</p> <p>And today we find ourselves amidst the turmoil and chaos of the Middle East, more thwarted and further removed from any peace agreement than ever. We have exhausted all the options within the negotiations for peace, and surely this is a waste of time - a ‘Trojan horse’ with which Israel seizes ever more land from the Palestinians, especially around Jerusalem, as they kick us into the streets without any mercy for children, old people or women. &nbsp;</p> <p>Twenty years after its signature, the Oslo peace agreement clearly has nothing to do with peace. It has become simply the blueprint for the dehumanization of the children of Palestine. Deep divisions through walls and carefully nurtured racism, have only separated the Arab Palestinians from their Jewish neighbours. The agreement has regulated and legitimized the economic and political abuse that is the ongoing deepening of the occupation of Palestine. </p><p>Best known to the world media was Operation Pillar…white phosphorus rained down as civilians ran for cover in the streets. Atrocities committed by the Israelis include Gaza 2008-09, November 2012, and the continuous killing of the Palestinians in the West Bank, as well as the colonization of my people. The road blocks, water and food shortages, ban on medical and building supplies. The wrongful and unlawful siege imposed over the Gaza Strip!</p> <p>Now, as a Palestinian who lives in the Diaspora, I see things differently. I examine Oslo from the eyes of others, picking over the words and promises…but focusing on the excessive failures of the Palestinian leadership. The Oslo accord was engineered in a decisive historical time in the Middle East. With the first Gulf war under way and a troubled Palestinian leadership, it was clearly the intentions of the Israelis to shut down the first Intifada. The lies and traps became very apparent. We quickly realized to our own despair and great detriment that what had been built on a false intention was in fact false. As a young Palestinian writer and thinker in this time, I am convinced that the Oslo agreement was the second victory of the occupation. As the Palestinian leadership fell into the trap of Oslo, their position deteriorated day by day, leaving future generations of the Palestinians with no road map to their future or any true relationship with Israel. We have been failed by the ones we trusted so greatly. Many Palestinians have told me that they feel that Oslo was a foundation good enough to start a new phase of political struggle. I once thought the same. However it is clearer now, what we have lost by signing Oslo, and what the first Intifada could have given us.&nbsp; We stopped short of claiming the prize.</p><p>What makes matters worse is the great failure of the Palestinian leadership to reform the PLO and PA institutions. They failed to attract skilled Palestinians, not because they cannot, but because they prefer to be corrupt (it is worth mentioning that the EU and its institutions are funding the corruption of the PA and the occupation, simultaneously).</p> <p>Currently, the security agencies of the Palestinian Authority as well as Hamas’s security militias in the Gaza Strip are agents protecting Israel’s interests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian leadership (since 1993) is a political prisoner of the Oslo process. The president is controlled by a small office run by a young Israeli officer who decides who can accompany Abbas. In 2008, while traveling through Jordan to Europe, I personally witnessed the PA’s presidential official, Tayeb Abdelrahim arriving at the same time. He took a taxi to cross to Jordan under the order of a 21 year old Israeli soldier. Is it really any shock that Israeli occupation forces invade any Palestinian city at any time without informing Palestinian security? <a href="http://www.aljazeera.net/news/pages/c4537680-d172-41c5-921a-8c1d897af76f">Two weeks ago, Israeli forces invaded a refugee camp in the West Bank, killing three Palestinians.</a> These are refugees, their real homes are in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Safad or Haifa…what is the real purpose of such an invasion? To break their will? </p> <p>Add to that the huge bureaucratic apparatus that the Oslo Agreement installed to hinder any democratic aspirations. Despite this, twenty years afterwards, the Palestinians are more patriotic…and cling all the more to their land, past and history. It’s all we have left. The only solution is to rethink the dead Oslo Accords and try again - with a process that eliminates the current apartheid regime and paves the way to coexistence and real peace and not a ‘process of peace.’ </p> <p>In 1990, as Edward Said once argued, the Palestinians were divided into four groups. The first was the biggest, which is the silenced and hopeless: mainly the Palestinians in the diaspora. The second were loyal to Arafat and his military apparatus. The third was the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank: suspicious of what the Oslo agreement would bring but at that time, not decided. The last was the marginalized group of intellectuals, educated personalities and some Islamic factions who were opposed to the Oslo Accords. &nbsp;</p><p>Since then, we have narrowed ourselves into two groups. Those who defend Oslo and its products, its corrupt institutions, nepotism, patrimonialism and abuse of power. This group is the PA leadership, their families, faithful and those who benefit from the status quo. The second group represents the majority of the Palestinians: those opposing Oslo and all its products, including the ‘so called’ historic leadership of the Palestinians. Of course, they agree that the PLO is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, but they oppose those who are in power who claim to represent them and who seem to have little or no desire to meet their demands. </p> <p>The Oslo accord has failed to address many important issues... what about the Palestinians who live in Israel? They now constitute more than 23% of Israel’s populations. Oslo ignored them and left them as second-class citizens. Laws against dating between the Palestinian and Jewish people led to kidnap and murder. They have no more rights than they did before... Irrefutably we still struggle jointly with the rest of the Palestinian people against occupation and denial of Palestinian rights to life. To exist. Two months ago, all the Palestinians in historic Palestine, especially our younger generation, stood firmly and actively against the Prawer Plan to annex the Naqv desert. It was a landmark protest and strong message to Israel and the PLO alike that what Oslo has ignored, twenty years later will not be ignored by us.</p> <p>At this time, the Palestinian people still count on the American administration as a third party. Despite all that the west has done and not done, many Palestinian leaders still believe that American money is more important than the needs of the people. It is shameful, but true.&nbsp; </p> <p>I don’t know what our grandfather’s generation, or our father’s generation had in mind…but we, the current generation, have more options than any that came before. We have a one-state solution as a viable alternative, with nonviolent resistance or a third intifada as the means. We will not accept anything more than equality: Palestinians and Jewish people seen as human beings with rights. We will accept nothing less. </p> <p>“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; because none but ourselves can free our minds”&nbsp; <em>Redemption song / Bob Marley</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/sam-gilbert/resistance-culture-east-jerusalem-neighbourhood-continues-fight">Resistance culture: an East Jerusalem neighbourhood continues the fight</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia Palestine Israel international politics Gaza Democracy and government Abdalhadi Alijla You tell us Geopolitics Mon, 16 Sep 2013 07:50:48 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 75386 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The road to federal consociationalism https://www.opendemocracy.net/abdalhadi-alijla/road-to-federal-consociationalism <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Many Israeli Jewish intellectuals, activists and politicians over the years have spoken out clearly for a one-state solution. They were very aware of the consequences of war and conflict, and arrived at the conclusion that we must live together, sharing food, water, resources, and even politics.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Despite the so called breakthrough in bringing the Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table again, there is little hope that it will put an end of the conflict in this tiny geographical area of land on the eastern Mediterranean. The younger generation of the Palestinians are fed up with negotiations and its gurus, and convinced that these efforts will not break the impasse. </p> <p>Netanyahu has accepted Kerry’s proposal in order to smooth the path to new US-Israeli discussions on Iran. He decided to resume talks to make the American administration happier with him and halt American pressure on him. Despite the fake smiley faces seen in Washington (Livni-Kerry-Erikat), a new plan to build hundreds of houses in settlements in the occupied territories has been approved. According to Natan Sachs, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institute, both parties "basically agreed to disagree, and to talk about that.” <a href="http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=616373">Ramzy Baroud</a>, a syndicated Palestinian writer wrote recently, ‘Predictably, it will come to an abrupt ending followed by a protracted blame game. Knowing how mainstream western media which is the majority of the time biased towards Israel operates, Palestinians will likely be the party responsible for the failure of the "talks" that are yet to start.’&nbsp; So what we have is the last unsuccessful attempt to bring the peace process alive.</p> <p>It is time to question both the aim of negotiations and the two-state solution. After more than 20 years of negotiations between them, Israelis and the Palestinians seem to agree. “<a href="http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/169153#.UcQrVfmmiAi">The Oslo paradigm does not work and it’s time to think outside the box, the two-state solution is not feasible and neither is the continuation of the status quo, which will lead to international de-legitimization of Israel</a>”, Israel’s Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely from Likud said at Tel Aviv University, marking twenty years since the signing of the Oslo Accords. Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister and the Quartet Committee representative warns, "the window of opportunity will be open for only a short space of time," speaking in Jerusalem at the 2013 Presidential Conference hosted by Israel's President Shimon Peres.</p> <p>Efforts to bring peace to the region in the 80s and 90s, signing the Oslo peace accord and clinically separating the two people from interacting have undermined any efforts to build trust between them. Instead, it has increased hostilities through the actions of the radical and racist policies that Israel has taken. After twenty years of negotiations, Israel is still confiscating more and more land, continuing to expand the apartheid wall, increasing the number of checkpoints and road blocks, and creating rifts between Palestinians as well as between Jews and Arabs by sewing hatred, fear and violence. </p> <p>As Edward Said stated in the early 90s, “the effort to separate has occurred simultaneously with the effort to take more and more land, which has in turn meant that Israel has acquired more and more Palestinians. ” It is clear that the current situation is benefiting Israeli Jews in the short run. But will this ensure Israel’s security in the long run? Of course not. Israel has already been there, done that, although not successfully, and now faces new security challenges. Moreover, it has more than 1.5 million Palestinians who live inside Israel. In the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem (Palestinian land that the UN recognizes as also occupied territories and that the Palestinian Authority would like to see as a Palestinian state) live more than three million Palestinians. <a href="http://www.nad-plo.org/atemplate.php?id=56">Inside the West Bank, more than half a million Jewish settlers live throughout the Palestinian cities, using bypassing and Israeli-citizen-only roads</a>.</p> <p>Looking at the geographical, ecological and environmental realities, a two-state solution is unrealistic. What is happening now is heartbreaking, if not bloody. Netanyahu and his radical parties in and outside Israel will not give up confiscating more land and their wish to separate Jews from Arabs. Gaza has been deemed as the largest open-air prison and what is more, it is also an explosive place, given the fact that Israel is surrounded by Arabs and has a huge number living inside Israel. Oslo only succeeded in managing the conflict by giving the Israelis the chance to dream of permanently separating two people and the land. </p> <p>Today, my generation, the current generation, of Palestinians, see things differently. We have experienced two Intifadas and lived through the wars in Gaza.&nbsp; In contrast to our parents and grandparents, we did not experience the Nakba directly, but the memories of the Palestinian catastrophe live on in our daily lives, as well as some of its symbolism, such as the UNRWA tents, camps and other visual reminders.&nbsp; Meanwhile, we accept that we can live side by side with the Israeli-Jew in one state that recognizes our rights as human beings (civil, economic and political rights).&nbsp; </p> <p>For some Palestinians, this is acceptable because we are the weaker party and we are losing day after day. But others, like me, argue that this is the only visible way to put an end to such a bloody conflict. Saeb Erikat, chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority, said that after the collapse of the peace process, the Palestinians are officially going to adopt a one-state solution, "it is time to &nbsp;refocus their attention on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals... It is very serious. This is the moment of truth for us." </p> <p>This is not only for us as Palestinians; many Israeli Jewish intellectuals, activists and politicians over the years have spoken out clearly for a one-state solution. Uri Ariel, Berl Katznelson, Martin Buber, Judah Magnes, Hannah Arendt and Meron Benvenisti were very aware of the consequences of war and conflict, and arrived at the conclusion that we must live together, sharing food, water, resources, and even politics.&nbsp; </p> <p>So, if it is true that we have reached the end of the road, what now should be done? </p> <h2>What is next? Variations on consociationalism</h2> <p>The first step is the most difficult to take. Israel, which has neither defined borders nor a constitution, must admit the right of return for Palestinians. Without that, no solution will be viable. The negotiation should be on how to reconcile two peoples whose history motivated one of them to colonize the land of the others. And the first step involves a stark choice. As <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2003/oct/23/israel-the-alternative/?pagination=false">Tony Judt put it</a>, “The true alternative facing the Middle East in coming years will be between an ethnically cleansed Greater Israel and a single, integrated, binational state of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians.” </p> <p>Then there are two governance options. One is consociationalism as introduced by Arend Lijpahrt in his well-known article; ‘Constitutional design for divided societies’ in the <em>Journal of Democracy</em>. And the other, a new form that might be called federal consociationalism.</p> <p>Consociationalism makes for power sharing in deeply divided societies. Israel as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural state could easily expand the notion of citizenship to include the Palestinians in the Gaza strip, the West Bank and receive the refugees who were expelled out of their homes in 1948. The Palestinians should be equal to Jews in every sense and the resulting democracy based on “one person, one vote and one state.” </p> <p>In a one-state solution, the president, prime minister and the speaker of parliament take it in turns to preside over time among the different ethnic groups, based on a written constitution with unchangeable laws and rules designed to dismiss Jewish fears of oppression by the Palestinians. History tells us that Jews had equal rights to Muslims and Christians in Palestine prior to 1948. This form of governance has to be organized in a hierarchical way, taking local governance as the main building block for the state. Urban governance, environmental and economic policies will contribute to the prosperity of this state, turning it into an economic and tourist hub. </p> <p>But the problem of the demographic threat as seen by many Jewish commentators can only be resolved through a second governance model: federal consociationalism. This requires that each state has its own defined borders, and that its demographic mobility is restricted. &nbsp;This form of democracy also meets the demand for a newly recognized state of Palestine, with its own institutions.&nbsp; The Palestinian state must be recognized as a state from the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, which constitutes 22% of historical Palestine. Israel’s borders must be defined as well, based on international law. The Palestinian refugees must return based on the agreement that Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barack reached that 250 thousand refugees return to Israel and the rest to the Palestinian state. &nbsp;The two entities constitute a federal state under consociationalism, sharing resources, the economy and strategic political decisions. </p> <p>This form of governance and power-sharing will give the two sides a chance for a serious partnership. Israel has long relevant experience for such a solution, having encouraged hundreds of thousands of Palestinian workers to work in Israel on a daily basis prior to the second Intifada. This was for economic reasons, but when it comes to conflict resolution, this would have to be enshrined in the constitution of the one-state. Israel has more than one and a half million Palestinians living inside Israel, who will constitute more than 30% in the next 20 years. Israel already has a citizenship concept that embraces this fact, even though it is discriminatory based on ethnicity and identity.</p> <p>While federal consociationalism may make Palestinians and Israelis ‘equal’, it would also create an entirely separate territory for each. This solution would offer a federalist system with provinces (Israel, West Bank and Gaza) that share resources and power and have majoritarian rule at the provincial level. The Federal Government could be consociationally organized, with ethnic quotas in the legislation and a presidency that alternates between Palestinian and Israeli.</p> <p>The only alternative is a continuous bloody costly conflict, with European and American governments helping to sustain it by giving Israel considerable political space to develop its apartheid regime. Being a second generation expelled Palestinian, it seems to me that this is the last chance for the international community to save the region from eternal conflict. Palestinian youth, of whom I am one, are frustrated and hopeless. The coming explosion will go beyond the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Remember <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1999/01/10/magazine/the-one-state-solution.html?pagewanted=all&amp;src=pm">the words of Edward Said</a>, “Unfortunately, injustice and belligerence don't diminish by themselves: they have to be attacked by all concerned.”</p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel </div> <div class="field-item even"> Palestine </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> North-Africa West-Asia openSecurity Palestine Israel Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Economics Equality International politics Constitutional reform Abdalhadi Alijla You tell us Sun, 11 Aug 2013 10:32:45 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 74668 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Abdalhadi Alijla https://www.opendemocracy.net/content/abdalhadi-alijla <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Abdalhadi Alijla </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-firstname"> <div class="field-label">First name(s):&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Abdalhadi </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-au-surname"> <div class="field-label">Surname:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Alijla </div> </div> </div> <p>Abdalhadi Alijla is a Palestinian-Swedish academic and researcher. He is &nbsp;the executive director of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Canada (IMESC). He serves as the regional manager&nbsp;for Gulf countries at&nbsp;Varieties&nbsp;of Democracy Institute, Gothenburg University, Sweden. He has a PhD in Political Studies from Milano University, and MA in Public Policy from Zeppelin University.</p> Abdalhadi Alijla Fri, 19 Jul 2013 17:32:45 +0000 Abdalhadi Alijla 74181 at https://www.opendemocracy.net