January 9, 2011

EDITOR: The Boycott is biting, and Israeli academics are running scared!

In a move designed to counter the BDS movement against Israeli academia and its collusion in the occupation and its brutalities, 155 Israeli academics have called for a boycott of the the Ariel College. The assumption is that if they themselves are boycotting Ariel, it will be difficult for the BDS movement to boycott them…

Nonetheless, this is an important development, and a clear sign of the efficacy of the BDS movement’s activities

Israel Prize laureates join academic boycott of settlement university: Haaretz

155 academics sign petition calling Ariel, where the education center is located, an illegal settlement whose existence contravenes international law and the Geneva Convention.

Some 155 university and college faculty members have signed a petition calling for an academic boycott of the Ariel University Center.
In the petition, the lecturers state their “unwillingness to take part in any type of academic activity taking place in the college operating in the settlement of Ariel.” Furthermore, the petition states that “Ariel is not part of the sovereign state of Israel, and therefore it is impossible to require us to appear there.”

Among the signatories are three Israel Prize laureates – professors Yehoshua Kolodny of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Benjamin Isaac of Tel Aviv University and Itamar Procaccia of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

“We, academics from a variety of fields and from all the institutions of higher learning in Israel, herein express publicly our opposition to the continued occupation and the establishment of settlements,” the petition states. “Ariel was built on occupied land. Only a few kilometers away from flourishing Ariel, Palestinians live in villages and refugee camps under unbearably harsh conditions and without basic human rights. Not only do they not have access to higher education, some do not even have running water. These are two different realities that create a policy of apartheid,” the petition also says.

The signatories state that Ariel was an illegal settlement whose existence contravened international law and the Geneva Convention. “It was established for the sole purpose of preventing the Palestinians from creating an independent state and thus preventing us, citizens of Israel, from having the chance to ever live in peace in this region.”

The petition was initiated and organized by Nir Gov of the Weizmann Institute’s Department of Chemical Physics. Unlike other such initiatives, over a third of the list’s signatories are from the natural and exact sciences.

Gov, who started organizing the petition a few weeks ago, said it was important to show that not only people known from other petitions support a boycott of Ariel, and therefore this petition has among its signatories many scholars who are not from the social sciences and the humanities.

“Israeli academia must differentiate itself from the ‘settlement’ academia,” said Gov. “Only significant differentiation can help our supporters abroad who are working against an academic boycott of Israel. This assistance is important, but all in all it is secondary to the principled stand that the goal of the establishment of the college at Ariel was not teaching and academic research, but political. It may be too late, but we felt a need to state in the clearest language that Israeli academia must not be involved in the settlement project,” Gov also said.

Gov said he encountered some colleagues who agreed with the message of the petition but were afraid to sign. He said such fear, “in the current atmosphere, is understandable, tangible. Even if there is no official action against the signatories, we may pay some sort of price.”

About three weeks ago, the Council For Higher Education issued a public statement against calls by Israeli academics for an academic boycott of Israel. The council, which is headed by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, said such calls “undermine the foundations of the higher education system.”

However, Gov said there is no contradiction between the council’s statement and the petition. “The council says rightly that there is a danger of delegitimization of the academic system in Israel. We say the source of this danger is Ariel and the settlements.”

Yigal Cohen-Orgad, chairman of the Ariel college’s executive committee, said: “A tiny and bizarre minority of some 150 lecturers is behind the petition, out of 7,000 faculty members. The cooperation between the Ariel University Center and many hundreds of scholars from universities in Israel and many hundreds more from 40 universities abroad, is the response to this petition. We know the heads of the universities oppose the call for a boycott and all it entails. I am sure that academia will continue to cooperate with us.”

Hopes of Gaza cast in lead: Al Jazeera online

Israel is gearing up for another major offensive into Gaza, yet the world community still remains bafflingly silent.
Richard Falk

Thousands of Turkish protestors greet with Palestinian and Turkish flags from harbour and boats as the Mavi Marmara ship returns to Istanbul after Israel's deadly raid

It is dismaying that during this dark anniversary period two years after the launch of the deadly attacks on the people of Gaza – code-named Operation Cast Lead by the Israelis – that there should be warnings of a new massive attack on the beleaguered people of Gaza.

The influential Israeli journalist, Ron Ren-Yishai, writes on December 29, 2010, of the likely prospect of a new major IDF attack, quoting senior Israeli military officers as saying “It’s not a question of if, but rather of when,” a view that that is shared, according to Ren-Yishai, by “government ministers, Knesset members and municipal heads in the Gaza region”.

The bloody-minded Israeli Chief of Staff, Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi, reinforces this expectation by his recent assertion that, “as long as Gilad Shalit is still in captivity, the mission is not complete”. He adds with unconscious irony, “we have not lost our right of self-defence”.

More accurate would be the assertion, “we have not given up our right to wage aggressive war or to commit crimes against humanity”.

And what of the more than 10,000 Palestinians, including children under the age of 10, being held in Israeli prisons throughout occupied Palestine?

Red herrings

Against this background, the escalation of violence along the Gaza/Israel border should set off alarm bells around the world and at the United Nations.

Israel in recent days has been launching severe air strikes against targets within the Gaza Strip, including near the civilian-crowded refugee camp of Khan Younis, killing several Palestinians and wounding others.

Supposedly, these attacks are in retaliation for nine mortar shells that fell on open territory, causing neither damage nor injury. Israel also had been using lethal force against children from Gaza, who were collecting gravel from the buffer zone for the repair of their homes.

As usual, the Israeli security pretext lacks credibility. As if ever there was an occasion for firing warning shots in the air, it was here, especially as the border has been essentially quiet in the last couple of years, and what occasional harmless rockets or mortar shells have been fired, has taken place in defiance of the Hamas effort to prevent providing Israel with any grounds for the use of force.

Revealingly, in typical distortion, the Gaza situation is portrayed by Ashkenazi as presenting a pre-war scenario: “We will not allow a situation in which they fire rockets at our citizens and towns from ‘safe havens’ amid [their] civilians.”

With Orwellian precision, the reality is quite the reverse: Israel from its safe haven continuously attacks with an intent to kill a defenceless, entrapped Gazan civilian population.

Silence is complicity

Perhaps, worse in some respects than this Israeli war-mongering, is the stunning silence of the governments of the world, and of the United Nations.

World public opinion was briefly shocked by the spectacle of a one-sided war that marked Operation Cast Lead as a massive crime against humanity, but it has taken no notice of this recent unspeakable escalation of threats and provocations seemingly designed to set the stage for a new Israeli attack on the hapless Gazan population.

This silence in the face of the accumulating evidence that Israel plans to launch Operation Cast Lead 2 is a devastating form of criminal complicity at the highest governmental levels, especially on the part of countries that have been closely aligned with Israel, and also exhibits the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations system.

We have witnessed the carnage of ‘preemptive war’ and ‘preventive war’ in Iraq, but we have yet to explore the moral and political imperatives of ‘preemptive peace’ and ‘preventive peace.’ How long must the peoples of the world wait?

It might be well to recall the words of one anonymous Gazan that were uttered in reaction to the attacks of two years ago: “While Israeli armed forces were bombing my neighbourhood, the UN, the EU, and the Arab League and the international community remained silent in the face of atrocities. Hundreds of corpses of children and women failed to convince them to intervene.”

International liberal public opinion enthuses about the new global norm of ‘responsibility to protect,’ but not a hint that if such an idea is to have any credibility it should be applied to Gaza with a sense of urgency where the population has been living under a cruel blockade for more than three years and is now facing new grave dangers.

And even after the commission of the atrocities of 2008-09 have been authenticated over and over by the Goldstone Report, by an exhaustive report issued by the Arab League, by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, there is no expectation of Israeli accountability, and the United States effectively uses its diplomatic muscle to bury the issue, encouraging forgetfulness in collaboration with the media.

Truths

It is only civil society that has offered responses appropriate to the moral, legal, and political situation. Whether these responses can achieve their goals, only the future will tell.

The Free Gaza Movement and the Freedom Flotilla have challenged the blockade more effectively than the UN or governments, leading Israel to retreat, at least rhetorically, claiming to lift the blockade with respect to the entry of humanitarian goods and reconstruction materials.

Of course, the behavioural truth contradicts the Israeli rhetoric: sufficient supplies of basic necessities are still not being allowed to enter Gaza; the water and sewage systems are seriously crippled; there is not enough fuel available to maintain adequate electric power; and the damage from Operation Cast Lead remains, causing a desperate housing crisis (more than 100,000 units are needed just to move people from tents).

Also, most students are not allowed to leave Gaza to take advantage of foreign educational opportunities, and the population lives in a locked-in space that is constantly being threatened with violence, night and day.

This portrayal of Gaza is hardly a welcoming prospect for the year 2011. At the same time the spirit of the people living in Gaza should not be underestimated.

I have met Gazans, especially young people, who could be weighed down by the suffering their lives have brought them and their families since their birth, and yet they possess a positive sense of life and its potential, and make every use of any opportunity that comes their way, minimising their problems and expressing warmth toward more fortunate others and enthusiasm about their hopes for their future.

I have found such contact inspirational, and it strengthen my resolve and sense of responsibility: these proud people must be liberated from the oppressive circumstances that constantly imprisons, threatens, impoverishes, sickens, traumatises, maims, kills.

Until this happens, none of us should sleep too comfortably!

Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge, 2008).

He is currently serving his third year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.

The IDF uses propaganda like an authoritarian regime: Haaretz

Instead of working toward revealing the truth behind the recent death of an anti-fence demonstrator the IDF is reaching into its bag of lies.
By Gideon Levy
Jawaher Abu Ramah died young. She stood facing the demonstrators against the separation fence in her village, inhaled very large quantities of the gas that Israel Defense Forces soldiers fired that day, collapsed and died several hours later at a Ramallah hospital.

These are definitive facts. The IDF should have immediately issued a statement expressing sorrow for the death of the demonstrator, and said it would investigate the excessive means used for dispersing demonstrations at Bil’in, which had killed Bassem, Jawaher’s brother, for no reason. He was hit by a gas canister fired directly at his chest two and a half years ago.

So, the IDF began with the spreading of lies, making up facts and spinning tales, originating with officers who did not dare identify themselves. Following the investigation into Jawaher’s death, it is also necessary to investigate how the army dares to distort in this way. Perhaps it will disturb Israeli society more than the death of a demonstrator.

It started with the first announcement of the IDF spokesman who spoke of an “illegal demonstration.” Illegal, Avi Benayahu? Stealing land for the construction of enormous settlements and the enrichment of questionable developers is legal; the defense establishment’s continuously ignoring the High Court decision that the fence route needs to be changed is legal; the killing of Bassem is legal; and only the demonstration is illegal. Why is it illegal? Are the Palestinians and the anti-occupation activists not entitled to demonstrate? What demonstrations can be more legitimate than peasants protesting against the theft of their lands – demonstrations that resulted in the High Court ruling? How could the Palestinians demonstrate legally? And why are the IDF and the police capable of dispersing the demonstrations of wild and violent settlers without deaths and only the dispersal of Palestinian demonstrations becomes – not for the first time – fatal?

But that was not enough. The day after Jawaher was killed, the IDF began disseminating lies. It’s not clear why the army chose to embark on this campaign since a day after Jawaher’s death IDF soldiers intentionally killed a youth carrying a bottle at the Bik’ot crossing, but that did not stir any outburst. The IDF left little that it did not disseminate about poor Jawaher. It was said that she died at home in peace, and not in hospital. Oops, it was proved that she died in hospital. When the IDF learned that this trick did not succeed, it came up with other stories, a bag full of lies. Jawaher was not at the demonstration. There are no photos of her. She was there, observing from about 100 meters, and was choked by the smoke.

Another lie from the bag of the IDF: Jawaher had cancer, not just any cancer, but leukemia. She stood at the demonstration and suddenly collapsed and died of leukemia. Where did they pull that from? Perhaps because her father died of leukemia five years ago. Blood? Through its propagandists in the media, the IDF said that the funeral was “strange,” that her face was “covered” and that her body was covered in a “blood-soaked” shroud (perhaps she cut her wrists? ). No one saw the shroud, nor the covered face – only God knows their importance, but whatever. It’s enough that the IDF says leukemia and bloody shroud for the army or right-wing analysts to raid the media and spread their tales.

Jawaher watched the demonstration, inhaled gas, collapsed, was taken, in serious condition, by ambulance, to the hospital and died there the next day. As far as anyone knows, she did not suffer from leukemia. She had complained of vertigo, and the doctor diagnosed an ear infection. There was no autopsy, and the inventions on her medical past only desecrated the honor of the dead and her family. Even if she was taking medicine, as the IDF disseminated, did she not die as a result of inhaling gas?

It’s good to know that the death of Jawaher is on the IDF’s conscience. That is how it should be. All 21 Palestinian anti-fence demonstrators who were killed over the years, and with them dozens activists who were injured, including an American student who lost her eye during the summer, should also be on its conscience. But the way to deal with a troubled conscience needs to be through the exposure of the truth, not through lies. For the attention of the new IDF spokesman: The IDF is not a propaganda ministry of an authoritarian regime.

Palestinian mother tells of a family tragedy during protest against separation barrier: The Guardian

Daughter becomes third casualty in a West Bank family dedicated to ‘non-violent resistance’ against Israeli barrier.

The family of Jawaher Abu Rahme, 35, say she died after inhaling massive quantities of tear gas fired by Israeli forces. Photograph: Observer

Sitting on a bed in the family house, surrounded by posters that commemorate the death of her son, Subhaia Musa Abu Rahme laments her latest loss. Jawaher, her 35-year-old daughter, died on New Year’s Day after collapsing in her home village of Bil’in during a demonstration against the Israeli separation barrier. Despite assurances to the contrary from the Israeli army, her family insist that she died after inhaling massive quantities of tear gas.

“How do you think I feel?” says Abu Rahme softly, a white scarf covering her head and an almost absent look in her eyes. She can hardly comprehend what has happened to her family or the repeated horrors that have been inflicted on it. The family has come to symbolise the Palestinian struggle against the occupation of the West Bank.

Last year, Abu Rahme’s son, Bassam – a charismatic member of the committees that organise “non-violent resistance” against the barrier – died after being struck by a gas canister at a demonstration. Another son, Ashraf, has been left with a limp after being shot at close range with rubber-coated steel bullets by an Israeli soldier. And now, Jawaher.

“She was the nicest girl in Bil’in. Here, everyone liked her. The wall confiscated our lands, and now my children are gone. I have nothing left”, says Abu Rahme, a 55-year-old widow.

“But every time we lose someone we love, we gain strength to fight against the occupation,” she adds. “This is our land and we are going to defend it. We will not stop until we tear down the wall.”

Outside the house, on the patio, a group of men mourn Jawaher. They eat dates, drink spiced coffee and chain smoke – but barely speak. Next door, the women gather in a separate room, as tradition dictates. Political delegations, friends, relatives and schoolchildren pass by to express their condolences for the kind-hearted young woman who had worked as a carer for two disabled children in nearby Ramallah.

From the Abu Rahmes’ neighbourhood, the barrier that separates the Palestinian territories from Israel – and which cuts off the famil y from its olive groves – is clearly visible. For more than five years, they have participated with their neighbours in the struggle against the construction. But for them, more than for any other family in the village, the battle has brought tragedy. And last week, Jawaher’s death returned them to the headlines.

Her family are adamant she died after inhaling the tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during the demonstration in Bil’in. The army questions the reliability of Palestinian reports, including the hospital documents, and has complained in a statement of “lack of co-operation with the Palestinians”. It also says that although the army inquiry has not yet been completed, “a number of scenarios have been posited, among them the possibility that Abu Rahme’s death was entirely unrelated to the demonstration last Friday.”

For a visibly exhausted Subhaia Musa Abu Rahme, there is no such doubt.

“I was with my daughter, a bit far away from where the clashes were taking place, when the soldiers started shooting gas,” she remembers. “The wind brought the gas. We were very affected. I was feeling bad when my daughter told me that she could not take it any more and started vomiting.” Another of Jawaher’s brothers, Samir Ibrahim, 34, recalls calling an ambulance to take his sister to the hospital in which she later died.

“She was in a very bad condition,” he says. “They took her to a house and she was vomiting foam from her mouth. In four or five minutes, an ambulance came. They [the doctors] told us that she lacked oxygen due to the gas.”

Every Friday, Samir attends the demonstration against the Israeli separation barrier, built in the aftermath of the second intifada.

Clashes at the protests are common, with some Palestinians throwing stones and the army shooting tear gas, a fetid liquid known as skunk and employing other crowd dispersal weapons. A dense cloud of smoke fills the air and spreads over the village within seconds. It is not unusual for people to vomit in the streets, their eyes burning from the tear gas. But still, Samir, his family and friends keep up their display of defiance.

“We go to show our suffering,” he says. “It is our way to denounce that they are raping our land.” When asked if the hardships his family has gone through make them special, he says no. “We are like the others. This is only a test from God.”

Bil’in, about two miles from the 1967 armistice border, or Green Line, has always been an agricultural village. But the villagers, according to Michael Sfard, the Israeli lawyer representing them, are now prevented from getting to about 50% of their farmlands by the barrier. The impoverished Abu Rahmes are among those who lost their land.

Like the rest they can, in principle, enter their groves through a gate that the army is obliged to open for a certain number of hours a day. However, according to Sfard, the army does not always comply.

Back in the family home, Ashraf, the brother who was shot two years ago, listens attentively to his mother and Samir, a red-and-white Palestinian scarf tied around his neck. His shooting was filmed by an Israeli human rights group and the images travelled around the world. He considers himself lucky; not only did he escape with relatively minor injuries, but the lieutenant-colonel who ordered the shooting is now being judged in a military court. But last week there was no reason to be cheerful. “Our family is destroyed,” he says. “There will always be sadness in our family.”

Israeli troops kill Palestinian at West Bank checkpoint: BBC

Israeli troops in the West Bank have shot and killed a Palestinian man who tried to attack a checkpoint, the Israeli army says.

Two Palestinians have been killed at the checkpoint in the space of a week

The man leapt from a taxi and ran towards the checkpoint east of Nablus carrying a pipe bomb, ignoring orders to stop, a spokesman said.

Troops later found a second explosive device on his body.

Palestinian security officials said the man was a member of the militant group Islamic Jihad in the town of Jenin.

Last Sunday another Palestinian man was shot dead at the same checkpoint. Israeli officials said he had tried to attack troops with a bottle after they refused to let him through.

Mistaken identity
Correspondents say violence in the West Bank has eased in the past few years, but tensions have been running high over the past few days.

On Friday, Israeli soldiers shot dead an elderly Palestinian man in his bed, in the city of Hebron.

Amr Qawasme, who was in his 60s, was killed in what is thought to have been a case of mistaken identity during a series of raids to capture members of Hamas.

He was neighbour of a Hamas member who had been released from prison the day before.

Israel said Mr Qawasme was innocent and that it regretted the incident. An investigation is being carried out.

East Jerusalem: Construction of Jewish neighborhood begins: YNet

Shepherd Hotel leveled to make room for 20 housing units designated for Jews. Peace Now: Extreme right taking over east Jerusalem like thieves in the night

Shepherd Hotel leveled Photo: Noam Moskowitz

Construction of Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem underway / Ynet reporters
Year after building project approved, bulldozers begin infrastructure work atop Mount of Olives Ridge; housing units to serve married students attending nearby yeshiva. Rabbi: Project strengthens Jewish presence in united Jerusalem
The new neighborhood will include some 20 housing units designated for Jews.

The news that the developer, Irwin Moskowitz, had received a permit was first revealed on Ynet during a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama in Washington. The news led the US to express its strong opposition to the decision to construct a neighborhood in that area, which is considered politically sensitive.

Attorney Elisha Peleg, chairman of the Likud faction in the Jerusalem Municipality welcomed the beginning of the construction, saying it would “strengthen the Jewish foothold in east Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem is in need of many housing projects to lower apartment prices. I call for the construction of many Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem to prevent the city’s division and maintain its unity.”

Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said in response to the hotel’s demolition that “Netanyahu and (Jerusalem Mayor Nir) Barkat have decided to isolate themselves from the world and allow Moskowitz and his friends in the extreme right to take over east Jerusalem like thieves in the night. The settlers, with the government’s backing, are hurting Israel’s international status and destroying any chance of a peace agreement.”

The Solidarity Sheik Jarrah movement said, “The gang of settlers is continuing to grab the entire country by the balls, and their yes men, Bibi and (Defense Minister Ehud) Barak are continuing to destroy the country.

“Building a new settlement in Jerusalem goes against all of Israel’s interests and threatens to destroy whatever is left of Israeli diplomacy and ignite Jerusalem once again,” the movement said.

Hamas urges Gaza militant groups to stop attacks on Israel: Haaretz

Hamas official says organization began talks with other militant factions in order to ‘control the situation on the ground’, signaling Hamas hopes to avert any large-scale IDF operation in Gaza.

Hamas said on Sunday it has begun talks with other militant factions in the Gaza Strip to urge them to stop firing rockets at Israel, attacks that have raised Palestinian fears of a new Israeli offensive.

The talks are a signal that Hamas hopes to avert any large-scale Israel Defense Forces operation in the enclave similar to a three-week campaign that ended in January 2009 and in which 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

“We began contacts with factions over the situation in the field. Hamas seeks to control the situation on the ground and urge factions to recommit to the national agreement,” Hamas official Ayman Taha said.

He was referring to an understanding that Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, said it reached with militant factions two years ago to halt rocket and mortar bomb fire.

In recent weeks, Palestinian militants have stepped up attacks along the Gaza border, answered by Israeli strikes that killed 13 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, in December.

Israel has said Hamas has largely held its fire over the past two years but the surge in rocket attacks meant it was not doing enough to curb other groups, which say their strikes are in retaliation for Israeli raids in Gaza and the West Bank.

Several Hamas leaders have said a new Gaza war would inflict heavy casualties on Israel, but they also have spoken of a willingness for a reciprocal truce to facilitate the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure destroyed in the 2009 conflict.

The Hamas Islamist group is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.

EU’s Ashton raps Israel for demolishing East Jerusalem hotel: Haaretz

Settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory is illegal, the European Union reminded Israel on Sunday, after a historic hotel in East Jerusalem was partly demolished to make way for a Jewish apartment complex.

“I strongly condemn this morning’s demolition of the Shepherd Hotel and the planned construction of a new illegal settlement,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

“I reiterate that settlements are illegal under international law, undermine trust between the parties and constitute an obstacle to peace,” Ashton added.

Israeli bulldozers cleared the way on Sunday for 20 new homes in East Jerusalem, demolishing a wing of a derelict hotel in a settlement project that has angered Palestinians and drawn U.S. objections.

Construction at the Shepherd Hotel compound, whose ownership is contested, was likely to deepen Israeli-Palestinian acrimony as Washington tries to revive peace talks stalled by a dispute over Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Ashton reiterated that “the EU does not recognize” the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel, and also expressed concern for recent violence in the West Bank, amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian tension.

British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt also responded to reports that work has begun to enable creation of a new illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, and said that “the British Government reaffirms its strong, long-standing opposition to the creation of this new illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem and condemns today’s demolition in Sheikh Jerrah. The establishment and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.”

“We oppose provocative unilateral actions such as this, which hinder efforts to resume talks between the two parties leading to a two-state solution to this conflict, with Jerusalem as the shared capital of the two states living side by side in peace and security. That is the way forward. This latest settlement activity does not help – on the contrary, it raises tensions unnecessarily,” he added.

“We see this matter as extremely dangerous,” said Hatem Abdel Qader, the Palestinian official who oversees Jerusalem affairs for President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement.

Israel destroys East Jerusalem hotel for settlements: BBC

Palestinians accused Israel of trying to “erase” them from the city

Israeli bulldozers have demolished part of a hotel in East Jerusalem to make way for 20 homes for Jewish settlers.

The destruction of the Shepherd Hotel has angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

The Palestinian leadership said Israel was destroying any chance of returning to peace. The US called the demolition a “disturbing development”.

Israel says it has a right to build homes in any part of the city.

The Shepherd Hotel was built in the 1930s and was once home to Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who became an ally of Adolf Hitler in World War II.

Its current ownership is disputed – Israel says it belongs to a Jewish-American property developer but Palestinians say it was seized illegally after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

‘Contradicts logic’
“By doing this, Israel has destroyed all the US efforts and ended any possibility of a return to negotiations,” said Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Israel has no right to build in any part of East Jerusalem, or any part of the Palestinian land occupied in 1967.”

Attempts by the US to revive peace negotiations stalled last year, after Israel refused to end settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the demolition “undermines peace efforts to achieve the two state-solution”.

“In particular, this move contradicts the logic of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the parties on the status of Jerusalem,” she said.

Adnan al-Husseini, Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, said it was the latest in a line of demolitions of historic buildings and accused Israel of “trying to erase any Palestinian identity” from the city.

Israeli officials said the demolition had been carried out legally and defended its decision.

“This is something that every country does in its own domain without the necessity to give any report to any other government,” said the minister for national infrastructure, Uzi Landau.

Nearly 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel’s 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Israeli Army’s anonymous version of Jawaher’s death contradicted by everyone: TOD

January 4th, 2011
By Jesse Bacon
One of the proudest moments on this blog for me came when we were among the people covering the Rachel Corrie’s attempt to bring desperately needed supplies to Gaza in the aftermath of the 9 killings aboard the Mavi Marmara. Covering the event live on twitter as the Israeli army jammed all communications gave me a clear sense of who was trying to get the truth out as best we could,  and who wanted it stifled. I felt the army censorship personally in a way that had only been abstract for me before. Israel was able to suppress the story that night, but of course the people aboard the Rachel Corrie, as well as the Mavi Marmara continued to speak out. The short term victory was completely offset by the steady deterioration of Israeli crediblity.
Now another person is dead, this time a Palestinian protesting on her own land. Again, it is the Israeli army trying desperately to convince us that she was stricken by cancer in a single day. Fortunately, +972 magazine has gathered eyewitness testimony to demolish the army’s version of events, and I am extremely proud to have one of our tweets be part of the evidence against their ludicrous claims. . I realized that I had been guilty of magical thinking, that getting word out about a protest would somehow magically prevent anything bad from happening. Clearly that is not so. But I like to think the day when perpetrators of violence can lie with impunity is over and that will continue to be more and bigger protests, from Bil’in to Tel Aviv to Lexington, KY.
The army has also claimed that the reports about Abu Rahmah’s injuries started to arrive only several hours after the incident, in the evening. That claim is contradicted by a report sent via the Twitter account of NGO Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which reports the injury of Jawaher, including her name, in real time (click here to view). The tweet was sent at 2:36 pm Israel/PA time (4:36 am on the East Coast of the United States). Wafa, the Palestinian news service, published a report that includes the injury of Jawaher Abu Rahmah shortly after the event (click here to view).

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