Thoughts on IMEMC Article “Study Shows Palestinian Businessmen Invested $2.5 B In Israeli Settlements In 2010”

Posted in Palestinian Situation with tags , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by miragabi

Few friends have been sharing this article on Facebook today. while seemingly alarming (it kinda is) here are some thoughts (below the article).

Study Shows Palestinian Businessmen Invested $2.5 B In Israeli Settlements In 2010

http://www.imemc.org/article/62529

Saturday November 19, 2011 05:44 by Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies

An academic study conducted by a Palestinian researcher from the West Bank city of Bethlehem, revealed that the amount of investments by Palestinian businessmen in Israeli settlements and in Israel itself, amounted to $2.5 Billion in 2010.

Palestinian PM Salaam Fayyad Burning Settlement Prodcuts - Image Arabs48

The study was conducted by Issa Smeirat, 43, as part of his M.A Degree. This is the first study of its kind, and its results surprised Palestinian and Israeli officials, Israeli Daily, Haaretz, reported.

Haaretz said that should these investments have been conducted in the West Bank, they could have created at least 213,000 jobs.

According to the study over 16,000 Palestinian businessmen from the West Bank, who hold permanent permits from Israel to enter the country, established businesses and firms inside Israel and its settlements. This includes establishing several factories and companies, many of which have numerous branches, all paying taxes to Israel.

Smeirat also studied the motives that pushed those Palestinian investors to invest in Israel and its illegal settlements, especially since the issue is very sensitive and more Palestinian organizations, activists and officials are calling for boycotting of Israel and its settlement products.

Talking to Haaretz, the researcher said that the sensitivity of this issue prevents the publishing of the identities of the investors, adding that while conducting his research, the Palestinian National Economy Ministry in the West Bank -the same ministry that launched the campaign to boycott settlement products- stated that the Paris Agreement does not prohibit investing in settlements.

He was referring to the Protocol on Economic Relations, which came as an annex to the Gaza-Jericho Agreement, the first peace agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization on May 4 1994.

The agreement incorporated the relations between the two parties, and was then incorporated and suppressed by Oslo II Agreement, and became known as the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of 24 and 28 September 1995.

The study by Smeirat was presented at the end of this past summer at the Al-Quds University. He obtained detailed information from Palestinian Commerce and Industry Offices about Palestinian investors in Israel and its settlements.

He managed to contact 540 investors, and distributed 420 surveys to others, but only 374 of them filled in and returned the surveys. He also managed to conduct face-to-face interviews with over one-hundred investors.

His study revealed that most of the investors are fluent in Hebrew, and more than half of them are aged forty years or more. This shows that those businessmen worked in Israel before it began closing its borders to the Palestinians in the early nineties.

Approximately 23% of them worked as labourers in Israel before they established their firms and businesses, less than 1% of them speak no Hebrew.

One-fifth of the investors stated that their businesses are in Israel, Israeli settlements, the West Bank and abroad, while another one-fifth said that their investments are only in Israel and its settlements.

Approximately 90% of them said that their first ever experience in investments was conducted in Israel.

The researcher said that he believes that the main motive that encourages Palestinian investors to invest in Israel and its settlements is attributed to the limited capacity of Palestinian investments, especially since Israel controls 60% of the occupied West Bank. They also control most natural resources, especially water, in addition to Israel’s restrictions on the freedom of movement of the people and the goods, especially since its controls all border terminals in the West Bank, and has closed Israeli markets to Palestinian products.

The Israeli restrictions caused a sharp increase in production costs in the West Bank, comparing to production costs in Israel.

This is besides the sharp increases in prices of Palestinian lands (for sale and for lease), and the increase in the costs of water, power, and not to mention the lengthy wait that investors have to bear when importing raw materials. These factors increase cost production by approximately 30%.

The capital of 16,000 Palestinian investors in the Palestinian Authority areas are distributed as the following: 3,300 investors in Hebron; 3,100 in Ramallah; 3,000 in Nablus; 2,000 in Bethlehem; and 1,000 in Nablus.

Palestinian investments, according to Smeirat, are around 7 Billion U.S. Dollars; approximately $5 Billion of these investments are not in Israel and its settlements, as they are mainly invested abroad, either in projects or stocks, an issue that poses a significant challenge to investment opportunities within the West Bank.

Now I am not the best in economics but here are some observations;

First of all I dont think there exists a merchant or businessman in the whole of historical Palestine that doesnt deal directly or indirectly with Israeli authorities/businesses/investors, mediators -or they call mukhaliseen – At the end of the day everything that enters our market goes through them and we pay taxes and shit and Israeli border control/customs/port authorities they all benefit from this .. think how many Israeli stations/ stops each product has to go through before they get to the Palestinian market.
Our Palestinian economy as you know is FAR far from being even remotely independent .. but here I am more curious to understand those results in much more details than just those brief conclusions and numbers because when they say “investor” they make it sound as if its someone who has a significant capital and wants to make profit out of this capital by choosing to invest in some project or another. I personally have a hard time believing that its the case especially when they talk about 3300 in hebron , 3000 ramallah , 3000 in nablus ..etc etc. ya3ni if its such big numbers of investors then our economy would look completely different .. other than shops & services I rarely ever see in Nablus, I tend to think that this might include even owners of small businesses esp when they say many of those are people who were workers in Israel .. ya3ni frankly who are the workers in Israel ? they are among the poorest or some of the poorer people in our society ..so when one of those manages to save some money to start a project or invest in some project then not sure how big can it be? Therefore its interesting more to see the nature of those investments or “investors “.
Not to defend anyone because of course there are many greedy people who dont care about anything other than making money but in principle (and I am thinking of the several investment conferences that Fayyad organized in the west bank esp. Bethlehem in the last couple of years – most of the time didnt result in anything) even Palestinian really rich businessmen who live abroad fear to invest inside why because the first rule for any investment is to have stability and ability to sustain & expand in our case this doesnt exist and obviously Israel doesnt give permits even for factories or anything in B & C so this leaves only A areas that might be able to host such businesses/ industrial establishments. The question is to what extent is there a capacity for that in A areas? in this case the alternative -and the Israelis got it right here – is to invest in Israeli areas .. makes a lot of sense economically but politically bashes any effort to divest or disengage from Israeli economy but hey isnt the case anyhow?!

In my very opinion this is SO related to a discussion I recently had with some friends on how having the choice to boycott or to divest comes from a position of privalage because in actuality often times in Palestine we dont have that possibility and we are ” normalizing ” even when we dont want to , when we turn the light on we are .. when we demand our stolen water we are , when we buy fruits & vegetables we kinda are  .. So Israel perhaps figured that a PA & end of military administrations inside of Palestinian cities and replacing them with ministries & Palestinian DCO’s kinda changes the value of  what a civil disobedience movement  could look like ..

sorry for the bad writing .. tired :S

.”تعليق على تقرير معاً “وعاد شباب فلسطين من استراحة الحرب في المانيا بسلام وطني جديد

Posted in Palestinian Situation with tags , , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by miragabi

جاء في التقرير :

http://www.maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=220218

“طولكرم- تقرير معا- في منطقة هوف جيسمر الريفية الجميلة القريبة من مدينة كاسل الألمانية، نزلت (16) فتاة فلسطينية في اكاديمية تحيط بها مساحات واسعة من الاراضي الخضراء المشجّرة، مقابل (16) فتاة إسرائيلية لكسر الحواجز بين الطرفين، في رحلة اطلق عليها اسم “إستراحة من الحرب”، “وكأن المدافع والطائرات الفلسطينية تقصف تل أبيب صباحا ومساء”.

هذه المبادرة التي تحمل في طياتها معروفاً وردّ اعتبار لاسرائيل على ما ارتكبه هتلر بحقهم، فقد ذكّرت احدى المشرفات الألمانيات قائلة “إننا دفعنا مبالغ طائلة عليكم لتأتوا هنا الى المانيا وتخرجوا منها أصدقاء، فهم (أي اليهود) خسروا كثيراً في الهولوكوست ولا تزيدوا من همومهم”.

وذكرت ممولة الاستراحة من الحرب وتدعى هيلجا ديتر، أن الساسة يتفاوضون منذ ثلاثين عاماً، ولكن للأسف دون جدوى، وأن هذه اللقاءات التي تتم سنوياً منذ عام 2002 بالتعاون مع جهات شعبية إسرائيلية وفلسطينية، تعمل على خلق أرضية للحوار.

واستطردت قائلة: “نرجو أن يعود هؤلاء الشباب كدعاة للسلام إلى بلادهم، وأن يقوموا بإشراك الجميع في تجربتهم، ألا وهي أن العدو هو أيضا إنسان- على اعتبار اننا اعداء لاسرائيل-“.

يشار هنا، أن هذه المبادرة التي تحمل اسم “استراحة من الحرب” والتي تنظمها هيئة الحقوق الأساسية والديمقراطية، Komitee für Grundrechte und Demokratie، قائمة منذ عام 1994. وكانت المبادرة التي تهدف إلى دعم الحوار بين أطراف النزاعات والحروب قد بدأت بالجمع بين شباب من صربيا وكرواتيا والبوسنة، وأثبتت نجاحاً كبيراً، ما دعا القائمين عليها إلى التفكير في استضافة شباب من الشرق الأوسط.

تقول احدى الفتيات الفلسطينيات المشاركات في هذه الرحلة : “خرجنا مجموعتان الى المانيا الاولى خاصة بالفتيات، والأخرى للفتيات والشباب، افترقنا في المطار والتقينا فيه ولم نكن نعلم ما يدور في اللقاءات المختلطة، حيث ان كل فلسطيني يقابله إسرائيلي”.

وتضيف “بدأت اللقاءت بتعريف كل شخص على حده، الى ان تطور الى جلسات أحادية، حيث يقابل كل فتاة فلسطينية مثلها إسرائيلية، وهذا ما لقي إستنكاراً وغضباً واسعاً بين الفلسطينيات، ثم تطورت الأوضاع الى ان وصلت لحد سرد بعضاً من حياة الفتيات، ثم تعريف بسيط عن أسرة كل واحدة “.

وتقول الفتاة الفلسطينية “ما لمسناه من الفتيات الإسرائيليات أنهن لا يعرفن شيئاً، وبدأن بالحديث بطريقة مكسورة الجناح والدموع تذرف من عيون البعض منهن، بسبب ان الفلسطينيات كن ينظرن اليهن بإحتقار”، وفي هذا الإطار، عندما سألنا إحدى الفتيات عن الفلسطينيين قالت: وجدتهم بني آدمين مثلنا، ولا ينقصهم شيء، مع العلم انها لا تعرف مدينة رام الله رغم انها خدمت في صفوف جيش الاحتلال خلال حرب غزة.

وإستطردت الفتاة الفلسطينية “وبعد تلك اللقاءات، تطورت الأمور الى جلسات تعريفية أخرى للحديث عن ما صادفه الجانبان خلال الصراع بشكل شخصي، فتحدثت الفلسطينيات عن المعاناة المباشرة التي تعرضن لها هن وعائلاتهن طيلة فترة الصراع، وعندما إنتقل الحديث الى الجانب الاسرائيلي لم يذكروا سوى جمل قصيرة ومنها (سمعنا من اصدقائنا انه في عملية تفجيرية، او سمعنا عن جندي أصيب عندما اطلق فلسطيني النار على دورية، اي بعيداً عن الانتفاضة) فقلت لهم اشعرتموني أنكم تتحدثون عن حرب البوسة والهرسك، سمعتم ولم تشاهدوا شيئاً “.

وتضيف الفتاة الفلسطينية: “بعد ذلك طلب منا ان نتحدث عن إمراة فلسطينية أثرت بنا من ناحية فنية، فاختار البعض فدوى طوقان، واخرى أمية جحا وغيرهن، وفي النهاية تحدثت فتاة فلسطينية عن سيدة تعتبرها فنانة، فقالت: فنانتي دلال المغربي، ولم تكن تعلم ان القاعة ستضج عليها بالهتافات والاحاديث الجانبية حول ما علاقة دلال المغربي بالفن، فقالت الفتاة الفلسطينية ان قيادة فتاة في العشرين من عمرها لثلاثة عشر رجلاً في عرض البحر هو فن عظيم، فكيف لا ودلال طرّزت ثوب فلسطين بدمها “.

وتقول الفتاة الفلسطينية: “ما سمعناه من رد على هذا الحديث، هو ان اسرائيلية تطاولت على الشهيدات الفلسطينيات، وقالت انهن يذهبن للإنتحار بعد اجبارهن من قبل ذويهن لإرتكابهن الفاحشة، على أساس ان تفجير أنفسهن يعيد شرف العائلة، فما كان من الفلسطينيات الا الحديث أكثر وأكثر عن شهيداتنا امثال دارين ابو عيشة، وآيات الأخرس وغيرهن دون مبالاة، وسط غضب الفتيات الاسرائيلية، حتى ان فتاة يهودية طلبت خروج احدى الفلسطينيات من القاعة لاستكمال البرنامج”.

وعقب كل ما ذكر، قام منظموا الرحلة بعرض فيلم “أبناء آرنا” الذي لقي غضباً فلسطينياً بانه ليس المكان والزمان المناسبين للعرض، لانه يصور السيدة الإسرائيلية بأنها مثل في الحنان والسلم والامان “.

واختلف مسار البرنامج، واصبح هناك مساحة للحديث عن الثقافة والتاريخ والحضارة لكل جانب، فما كان من فلسطينياتنا إلا أنهن أبدعن في إبراز جماليات الثقافة والحضارة الفلسطينية، عدا عن عرض تاريخنا المشرّف، وما كان من الإسرائيليات سوى رقصات فوضاوية غير مفهومة، وعرض نوع من الشوكلاتة من صنع يدوي، وانواع كثيرة من المكسرات على اساس انها تمثل الحضارة الاسرائيلية.

وجلس الجانبان في قاعات للحديث أكثر وأكثر، فوجدت (تقول الفتاة الفلسطينية) أننا لم نتحدث عن شيء سياسي بالمعنى الحرفي، فقلت لهم انني اود طرح مواضيع للنقاش حتى تعلموا بها، مع العلم ان معظمكم يعلم أكثر مما سأقول، فتحدثت عن سرقة اسرائيل للمياه الفلسطينية، وردوا بأن اسرائيل مستحيل ان تكون كذلك، ثم تحدثتُ عن الاستيطان بما فيه مدينة القدس، ثم اللاجئين، وقلت لهم الا تعلمون ان أصغر أسير في العالم هو يوسف الزق الموجود في سجونكم، فردت إحداهن أن الفلسطينيين إختطفوا جلعاد شاليط، فقلت لها لدينا (11 الف) جلعاد شاليط في سجونكم، افرجوا عنهم ليفرج عن شاليط.

وتقول الفتاة الفلسطينية: “طلبت من القائمين على الرحلة ان يردوا للإسرائيليين جزء بسيط مما حرمهم منه هتلر، لكن ليس على حساب أبناء شعبي، فقلت لهم ان المساحات الخضراء بين مدينتي كاسل وبرلين طيلة 6 ساعات في الباص، تكفي لأن تقيم المانيا مستوطنات للإسرائيلين، وان يسكنوا بها، إضافة الى جميع الاسرائيليين الموجودين في العالم..”.

وتوضح الفتاة الفلسطينية: “شعرنا بعزة نفس تجذبنا الى أرضنا، عندما رفضنا وضع أيدينا في أيدي الإسرائيليات، ولم نقبل أن نودعهم، حيث طلبنا منهم اللقاء في المسيرات التضامنية ضد الجدار، كي نكسر الحواجز، لا نريد كسرها في احراض كاسل وشوارع برلين الراقية، هذا ما عهدته من رفيقاتي في مجموعة الفتيات، حيث أنهن رجعن الى ارض الوطن كما ذهبن، بمبدأ (لن نضع أيدينا في أيدي أعادينا وأيدي من دمروا غزة وقتلوا الشجر والحجر)”.

وتختم الفتاة الفلسطينية: “عدنا لنلتقي بالمجموعة الثانية “المختلطة” في مطار فرانكفورت، لنعود الى عمان، ثم الى ارض الوطن، فما شاهدناه يصعب علينا الحديث عنه، ومن الممكن ان تكون طبيعة المكان والموجودين فيه تفرض على شبابنا وفتياتنا ان يتحرروا أكثر، لكن ما تفاجأت منه أكثر هو أن شبابنا المناضلين صرخوا بصوت عالي (نريد ان نردد السلام الوطني الجديد، فبدأو بغناء كلمات غير مفهومة، ومن الأحرى ان نقول انها لا تليق بهم بفلسطين اولاً، وبهم ثانياً) “.

وتوضح الفتاة الفلسطينية هنا، انها وعند دخولها للفندق، شاهدت علم فلسطين، وداخل اللون الابيض للعلم يوجد علم إسرائيل ونجمة داوود….”

تعليقي:

بالإضافة الى التبهير اللي في المقال وعم اكتماله (لاخظ نهايته)، السؤال اللي بطرح نفس ازا كانو هالشباب والبنات هلقد فخورين بإنجازهم وانهم عرفوا يتصدوا للاسرائيليين بل حتى ما تعاملوا معهم زي ما بحكوا ليش ازاً مستحيين أو خايفين يزكرو اسمائهم ؟؟؟

أنا شايفة انو هدف المقال يبرر هيك لقاءات بل كمان يصورها على انها انجاز وإنتصار وكلنا بنعرف انو هيك لقاءات لا رح تعمل سلام ولا تخلق تعايش لسبب بسيط انه مش هيك بصير السلام والشباب الاسرائيلي اللي مستعد يوقف بوج حكومته أو يرفض الخدمة بالجيش لا يكاد يعد على اصابع اليد الوحدة، إضافة لهيك المقال بصور الشباب الفلسطينيين اللي بهل النشاط انو ماشاء الله قد حالهم وبعرفو تاريخهم والوضع السياسي تماماً طبعاً بتمنى لو كان هيك الوضع بس الحقيقة انو عدد كبير وما بقول الكل غير قادرين على مواجهة الاسرائيليين لا بالعربي ولا بالانجليزي بكل بساطة لأنو معلوماتهم التاريخية سطحية جداً وحتى تحضيرهم للنقاش وتقديم الحجج شبه معدوم على عكس الاسرائيليين اللي غالباً ما بكونوا جاهزين و احياناً مدربين …

أي نشاط بالعالم بقدم الطرفين الفلسطيني والاسرائيلي على انهم طرفين متساويين يجب مقاطعته لأنو بهل الوضع اللي احنا فيه مش مطلوب منا أي تفهم أو أي تنازل ..

في عالم ببريطانيا وبالنرويج بتقاطع اسرائيل ومنتجاتها بما فيها الفنية والثقافية وإحنا مبسوطين على هالشباب قال عشان ما تصوروا معهم ولا ما سلموا عليهم ومعتبرينوا انتصار وطني … تحيا السخافة!!

في مقال جيد جداً على الكترونك انتفاضة، ياريت الجميع يقرأه:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10722.shtml

‘We need a political earthquake’

Posted in Palestinian Situation, Public Opinion with tags , , , , , on August 6, 2009 by miragabi

[GALLO/GETTY]

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/08/200984841157927.html

By Mira Nabulsi

As Fatah’s sixth congress gets underway in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Al Jazeera asked young Palestinians how relevant the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) is to them and whether they still consider it to be the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

They share their views on whether reforming the PLO could help bring an end to Palestinian infighting and what they think the future of the PLO will look like.

Raqia, librarian

We have to take into consideration that Fatah is the major party in the Palestine Liberation Organisation even when other parties like the Palestinian left were in their good times, internal problems in Fatah were greatly reflected in the PLO, so reforming Fatah will pave the way to reforming the PLO.

Unfortunately, other Palestinian parties are now too weak to intervene, yet I do believe that reforming the PLO should be the fundamental priority of all factions.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) had definitely a big role in marginalising the PLO, and I don’t know whether Hamas has any interest in reviving or reforming it even if it publicly declares that.

The PLO should be the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, but in its current status it is not, none of the PNA parties are working to achieve that.

Reform will only happen if there is a political will and decision yet the prospects aren’t encouraging.

I am not very optimistic about the future of the PLO … we need a political earthquake.

Wassim Abu Fasha, researcher

Limiting the Palestinian representation to one political entity or structure is a necessity.

The question is whether the PLO with its current formula is representative to people’s ambitions, hopes and interests inside Palestine and in the diaspora or not.

The reality on the ground, the history of the PLO and the Arab and international recognition have given the PLO this position, especially as it gathered the majority of Palestinian factions in addition to some independent members.

I won’t get into history, nevertheless going back to PLO’s early times and the circumstances of its founding as part of the official Arab system essentially means narrowing the margins of its independence and linking decision making with the alliances and general context in the Arab region.

However, if we put all that aside I think the weakness of the PLO and the distortion in its programme is primarily a product of the Oslo accords and the founding of the Palestinian National Authority which “intentionally or unintentionally” marginalised the role of the PLO, took over many of its responsibilities and even subjected its legitimacy to questioning in the Palestinian street.

Accordingly the discussion of the PLO’s legitimacy and its representation to the Palestinian people and their cause deserves significant consideration; from one side having a Palestinian organisation with a clear agenda and gathering the different Palestinian factions is a strategic necessity, on the other hand the current situation of the PLO with its weakness and fragility makes the reform extremely important and so is distinguishing its role from that of the PNA.

Such confusion sums up the Palestinian cause into 1967 lands and disregards the representation of the Palestinian diaspora.

The PLO became a conflicting matter, each party is trying to obtain political gains to win recognition and legitimacy.

Reforming the PLO alone will not be a driving force for solving the internal Palestinian conflict, if this reform was not reached on the basis of a national reconciliation and a holistic programme unifying references, defining roles and strategies to deal with Israeli occupation, in addition to the inclusion of other Palestinian factions like Hamas and Islamic Jihad; it will not rescue the Palestinian situation, all disputed matters need to be dealt with holistically.

The PLO should represent Palestinians everywhere, to be based on democratic foundations balancing the different political ideologies of Palestinian factions and adopting a programme inspired by Arab aspirations which for years were suppressed by the ruling elites.

This programme has also to fit in the broader global struggle for freedom and justice, equality and democracy which would secure us the popular international and Arab solidarity and support.

Sami Abdo, quality engineer

Personally, I don’t think that the PLO with its current shape represents the entirety of the Palestinian people.

We have a whole new generation that grew up after the latest PLO elections (Palestinian National Council and PLO Executive Committee), not to forget that we have major Palestinian parties that emerged and refuse the previous commitments of the PLO.

I personally never elected a representative in the PLO, then how can it be legitimate if it’s not elected?

Currently, there is no body that represents Palestinian people everywhere not even the PLO, hence it can be our best choice, we have to also remember that the PLO obtained international recognition so I don’t see a problem in it continuing to follow up with Palestinians’ issues inside Palestine or the Arab countries but I don’t accept any crucial commitment it could make while it’s still with the current formula.

If reforming the PLO constitutes a free and transparent election where all Palestinians would get to vote and choose a programme that wins the trust of the majority, then I think our problems are solvable, that is because the current internal conflict is between two parties; one chose resistance until the full liberation and one chose political settlement. Evidently each party wants to impose its agenda, we therefore need to go back to the people and lets see whom will they choose.

I believe our people are fed up with negotiations and compromises and will choose to go back to resistance to ensure no more compromises and to hinder the submissive approach that characterises the PLO right now.

As for the future, I think people look forward to see change, they do not want a repetition of Hamas election’s experience and they do not want to go back to the previous approach.

We need people that are politically more liberal than Hamas is but who also care about the interest of their people, maybe this will give a push to more independent figures to take the lead.

If Fatah presented a programme that is stronger and takes into account people’s choices maybe they still have a chance. On the other hand, if Hamas came up with better strategies to confront the siege maybe it will also still have a chance.

Ayman, leftist from Ramallah

I think the PLO is still part of the Palestinian identity. The PNA is part of the PLO’s responsibilities and not the opposite, the current situation still doesn’t cancel the PLO’s legitimacy or its sole representation of the Palestinian people.

The overlap in responsibilities between the PNA and the PLO is the main problem, and to be more specific the conflict between Hamas and Fatah is a conflict over the importance and the position of the PLO in the local sphere. Everybody still recognises its role and Hamas cannot alone be the representative of the Palestinian people because the PLO is a political platform and not a single party.

I think the PLO is on a crossroad; its reform is a national duty that is vital for the protection of the Palestinian national project.

If you ask whether there is a possibility for reform, I will say of course there is. What’s important here is having the will and the political decision.

So far reform has been discussed in the context of party interests and not in the broader context of the Palestinian cause which is why I think a serious will from the different parties and the president of the PLO is able to achieve reform.

I believe the confidence in the PLO is still existing, but associating it with Fatah has reduced its popularly.

Discords always existed between the Palestinian factions; that manifested in the pull out and accession of parties in and out of the PLO throughout the decades, and the attempts of finding other substituting entities failed and always re-emphasised that the PLO is the gathering framework. Hamas is making use of this low level of confidence to manipulate people for its own gains.

The PLO should not exclusively utilise political talks, and the political agenda must not threaten our right of resistance.

Our society is diverse politically and socially and the PLO should correspond with this variety in the Palestinian society, side by side with the revival of the international alliances that support the cause of our people.

Marwa Yousef, architect

The PLO is too corrupt to represent us, so my answer is no, I don’t think it represents me as a Palestinian.

The PLO in its current form is not relevant to the cause or to the Palestinians.

The cause was sold out long ago. I don’t think they even remember what the cause is.

In my opinion the internal conflict is not a political conflict, it’s a conflict over power and money, part of the reformation will do the trick! But who will reform it?

I find that the corruption levels are too high that even to the scale of the simplest Palestinians who will find a degree of badness in them.

In the current political society, I cannot think of anyone who is suitable for such a responsibility.

The future is gloomy. I think people have to go back 60 years, remember the Nakba and all that happened and start working all over again.

If we don’t do that, things will go worse than ever!

Nadia Hajal, researcher

As a Palestinian, I do consider the PLO as the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people inside Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Diaspora.

I believe that we, Palestinians, are still in a liberation phase against the Israeli occupation given the dead end tunnel of political negotiations, sign agreements and the paralysed Palestinian Authority institutions.

We need a reference and the PLO is the one.

The Israeli matrix of control – land annexation, construction of settlements, separation wall, bypass roads, control of borders, etc – create no opportunity for a viable and sovereign Palestinian Authority beyond its physical existence.

The remaining unviable and Israeli controlled 22 per cent of historical Palestine for Palestinians holds no optimism for the future. The annexation of Jordan valley makes land percentage even less.

However, I do also believe that the PLO has to refresh its blood and open its nerves to represent all spectrums of Palestinian factions who I believe should revolve around the PLO’s political agenda in affirmation to right to self-determination and right of return but consider an expansion in the methods of resistance represented in article 10 of the Palestinian National Charter to include non-violent resistance as well.

Reformed PLO should reconsider the 1988 officially endorsed two-state solution which – in my opinion – signals the starting point for the collapse of the Palestinian national project.

رداً على الخبر التالي: ” اللجنة الشعبية لشؤون اللاجئين بغزة تحذر من الاختلاط في مدارس الوكالة”

Posted in Palestinian Situation, Social issues OR Taboos on July 23, 2009 by miragabi

رداً على المقال التالي على موقع شبكة معاً:

” اللجنة الشعبية لشؤون اللاجئين بغزة تحذر من الاختلاط في مدارس الوكالة

http://www.maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=214170

غزة -معا- دعت اللجنة الشعبية لشؤون اللاجئين في المنطقة الشمالية ضرورة إلغاء ظاهرة الاختلاط بأسرع وقت ممكن قائلة :” ان هذه الظاهرة بعيدة عن قيمنا الإسلامية والوطنية وأعراف المجتمع الفلسطيني.

جاء ذلك خلال خلال مؤتمرها الأول الذي نظمته اللجنة الشعبية لشؤون اللاجئين في شمال غزة، في مسجد العودة حول ظاهرة الاختلاط في مدارس الوكالة حيث حضر المؤتمر مئات المواطنين الذين شاركوا ضمن هذه الفعالية.

وتحدث في المؤتمر كلا من حسام أحمد رئيس دائرة شؤون اللاجئين في حركة حماس, والدكتور يوسف الشرافي النائب بالمجلس التشريعي وعضو لجنة التربية والتعليم بالمجلس, والأستاذ معين مديرس رئيس اللجنة الشعبية في المنطقة الشمالية حول ظاهرة الاختلاط في مدارس وكالة الغوث وخطورة استمرار الوضع على ما هو عليه.

وحمل المشاركون وكالة الغوث المسؤولية الكاملة في حال استمرار الوضع على ما هو عليه أو حدثت أمور لا تحمد عقباها نتيجة هذا الاختلاط، داعية مدير عمليات وكالة الغوث للاجتماع فوراًً مع اللجان الشعبية في قطاع غزة لطرح آليات لإنهاء هذه المشكلة. وتشكيل مكتب مشترك من اللجان الشعبية في قطاع غزة تكون في اجتماع دائم لحين إنهاء المشكلة. بالاضافة لاستمرار الفعاليات المتعلقة بهذه الظاهرة في جميع محافظات القطاع حتى إنهائها.

وفي نهاية المؤتمر فتح باب النقاش بين ضيوف اللقاء والمواطنين الذين أبدوا ” استغرابهم وانزعاجهم من تصرفات وكالة الغوث” بهذا الخصوص, كما وطالبت اللجنة الشعبية باستمرار الضغط على الوكالة حتى إنهاء هذه المشكلة.”

بركاتك يا حماس .. انا مصدومة جداً من قراءة الخبر ومش عارفة من وين أبدا انتقدو، بس وكأنوا الانروا عندها ميزانيات ضخمة و مخبيتها عن الشعب الفلسطيني، وكأنو في مساحات واسعة وشاسعة وامكانيات هائلة لانشاء مرافق متكاملة لكل من الذكور والاناث على حدى والانروا واقفة بوج المشروع .. يا جماعة الانروا كل ميزانياتها تبرعات مع العلم أن امريكا المساهم الأكبر ومع ذلك ما بظن في وقت ما كانت في الانروا مش مزنوقة بالمصاريف نتيجة للتزايد المطرد لعدد المستفيدين من خدماتها حيث أنه حوالي نصف ميزانية الانروا  بروح فقط لقطاع التعليم وتلتين موظفينها هم من العاملين في هالقطاع وحسب احصائية على موقع الوكالة في العام الدراسي 2000/2001 كان عدد الطلاب المسجلين في مدارس الاونروا 486 الف طالب وطالبة يعني حوالي نصف مليون وهذا بس بالمدارس يعني في برامج تعليمية تانية مثل التعليم المهني غير مشمولة بهذا الرقم .. خلينا نتخيل لو الدعم توقف شو ممكن يصير بهالملايين المستفيدين من برامج الوكالة ؟؟  اللي بقرأ التصريحات النارية اللي في التقرير بظن أنه مجتمعنا مثالي وما في أي مشاكل لا بإكتظاظ الصفوف ولا بتسرب الاولاد من المدارس ولا بتراجع المستوى التعليمي بشكل عام أو جودة التعليم اللي كل مالها بالنازل ولا غيرها من المشاكل اللي عن جد بتعيق العملية التعليمية،  ركزوا معي كمان بهالجملة  “وحمل المشاركون وكالة الغوث المسؤولية الكاملة في حال استمرار الوضع على ما هو عليه أو حدثت أمور لا تحمد عقباها نتيجة هذا الاختلاط” يعني بتفكر كقارئ انو الانروا فاتحة بيوت بغاء بعيد عن السامعين ومش مؤسسات كانت تورد معلمين لدول عربية تانية (مثل دول الخليج) وكأنو الاختلاط خطره كخطر القنبلة النووية ولا الانحباس الحراري الي بعده شكل الكرة الأرضية رح يتغير أو ينمسح على الخالص….

لا والأدهى انو بتحس انو تعودنا على ظاهرة المصاري اللي بتيجي عالجاهز من هل الاجانب، والصورة اللي بتخطر ببالي وأنا عم بقرأ هالمقال انو كم واحد بكروشهم المنفوخة قاعدين على الكراسي وبعطوا بس اوامر وتوجيهات كيف يشتغلو الاونروا، طيب عفواً يعني انتو شو عم تعملوا للتعليم ولا لهل اللاجئين؟ لما يكون أغلبية  من الفلسطينيين في المخيمات بياخدوا حتى مواد غذائية أو مبالغ مالية كاش من الاونروا ولما يكون في ناس بغزة لسا عايشة بالخيم بعد الحرب الاخيرة على غزة، أذا كانت في مرا عم تنازع  معقول تشترط انو اللي يعالجها ما يكون دكتور زلمة؟؟ شو مساهمة هاي اللجان الي غالباً ما بتنصب حالها بحالها لواقع هالمجتمع أو تطويره؟

An Abnormal Usual Procedure Disturbing an Abnormal Usual Crossing

Posted in Palestinian Situation with tags , , , , on April 26, 2009 by miragabi

It always amazed me our people’s ability to quickly cope with unpleasant surprises ruining their anyhow unpleasant daily routine on checkpoints. Yesterday on my way back to Nablus from Ramallah, the “easy” trip (this time) ended with over half an hour waiting few meters away from Huwarra checkpoint. Driver asked us to leave the car while he apparently went back to find himself more passengers, when we asked him what’s happening he replied with carelessness: as you can see, checkpoint is closed.

Being a new employee in Ramallah, my relevantly small experience with checkpoints-closures made me look for familiar faces to ask what’s happening exactly and what can a helpless citizens like myself do in similar situations? I saw a colleague of mine nearby, he informed me that Zionist soldiers were bombing some car they found suspicious, and while that is done, life at Huwarra; the major checkpoint on the entrance of Nablus, freezes. Doesn’t matter if you’re in a hurry or if you’re fighting sickness in an ambulance, everyone has to either patiently wait, or listen to drivers who started advising people to get a taxi to Beitiba checkpoint with 15 shekels ONLY (same amount you pay from Ramallah to Huwarra). Beitiba checkpoint is on the other end of Nablus and to get there through alternative roads means more or less the time you need to go back where you came from, Ramallah in my case. Situation felt precisely like I was on the door but not stepping in.

I wasn’t sure when this whole operation started or when Zionist soldiers plan to finish it, there was maybe near to hundred people more or less, so it has been some time that’s for sure, I felt worried to hear drivers saying that similar procedures can take three to four hours !!! After some thinking I realized that I could not take their expectations for real especially when they were eager to “hunt” passengers to Beitiba.  I was still struggling with that thought when I noticed dozens of other taxi drivers on a nearby hill calling “Ramallah, Bethlehem, Khalil, …” just like they normally do when Huwarra is functioning .. the scene made me smile, I didn’t even notice when they mobilized to that new location, wasn’t sure whether it was that they’re used to coping with similar situations or that they became professionals in going around Israeli security procedures which often have nothing to do with security but more with disturbing the unfortunate Palestinians…

The other “interesting” scene was people who were also waiting like I was, people were waiting not complaining but rather curious to figure out what was happening meters away from where they were standing, I had the feeling that people are willing to continue waiting patiently one or two hours more without complaining or protesting the abnormal usual procedure… this time the thought was interrupted by the crowds that started marching towards the checkpoint after soldiers waived to let them know that the “procedure” is over -or almost so- in a panorama that looked like a forced “cooperation” between the occupied and the occupier. People marched to continue their usual crossing of an establishment that was normalized into their daily routine without their approval, while on the other side of Huwarra taxi drivers were as usual (also) fighting over passengers…

The Expulsion of the Expelled and Photo Essay

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 10, 2009 by miragabi

By Nadia Hasan

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The stone base that initiates the process of rebuilding the camp of Nahr al-Bared was laid on Monday, March 9 at a ceremony organized by the Lebanese Government and the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA, 18 months after that the camp was completely destroyed by the Lebanese army during fighting against militants of the group Fatah al Islam.

Invited to the event were persons in charge of the agencies involved in the process of reconstruction, journalists, diplomats, as well as a selected and limited Palestinian representation.

In a improvised tent, and under the direct supervision of the army and the intelligence service of the government of Lebanon, Tarek Mitri, Lebanese Minister of Information, Abbas Zaki, the Palestinian Authority Ambassador in Lebanon, Khalid Makkawi, chairman of the Committee for Dialogue Palestinian-Lebanese and Karen Abu Zayed, General Commissioner of UNRWA in Lebanon, expressed their thanks to all those involved in the process of rebuilding the camp and the efforts that they have been making to assist more than 40 thousand refugees whose homes were razed after they were forced to flee from them, ultimately taking refuge in the neighboring Beddawi camp. Only 17,000 of them were able to return and resettle in fragile emergency shelters built by UNRWA.

The exponents, in turn, agreed that the start of reconstruction of the camp is a clear indication that terrorism had failed and that joining efforts should be taken to prevent that acts of vandalism, like the ones that occurred in 2007, would not repeat again in any other Palestinian camp on Lebanese soil.

It is expected, therefore, that after the reconstruction of Nahr el Bared this becomes the only Palestinian refugee camp which is under direct control of the Lebanese state, which is thought to be a model for the other 11 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

What was not mentioned in any of the speeches was the absence of the refugees themselves, the ones who were constantly mentioned, the same that Zaki and Makkawi thank for their patience and dignity faced during the huge military offensive that lasted 3 months, in which they lost all their belongings, including their homes – those which were built with sweat and effort 60 years ago after being expelled from their homeland by the Zionist terrorist gangs that occupied Palestine in 1948 – and the shortage of humanitarian aid that they have had to live with during these past 18 months.

It was not mentioned either that many refugees still are not allowed to return to what has been called the “new camp” since access to the camp requires permission from the army and the Lebanese security services. Many have been unable to obtain the necessary permits that would allow them to pass through the many checkpoints where the Lebanese forces control movement, both within and outside the camp.

The camp has been completely leveled, leaving no trace of any houses, an important and necessary step for the Lebanese government to begin the reconstruction process. But no vestige either was left of any atrocities committed by the Lebanese army there, who, like birds of prey, raided the homes, destroying everything in their paths, and that not being enough, spraying the walls with flammable liquids, but not before recording their presence with offensive graffiti against the Palestinians. Nothing of that is there anymore, it has been erased, as well as part of the collective memory of a people, the memory of a people who created in this narrow square kilometer a home for 60 years while struggling to return to their own.

A few meters from where the event was taking place, hundreds of Palestinian residents of Nahr el Bared, were crowded into areas cleared for them by the Lebanese army, surrounded by barbed wire and under strict control of soldiers with guns in hand. Not only they were denied access, but they were required to be in rows, on each side of the street, watching the passing of foreign delegations, authorities and curious, who, since they were not Palestinians, were allowed to enter. They looked like they were on a nice weekend tour in the countryside, while the refugees were prevented from seeing its ruins, sitting on them and crying. These refugees whose dignity and courage was praised within the tent by representatives of various government authorities were being beaten after trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to enter the square kilometer that had been their home for 60 years.

Without journalists with lenses that could capture what was happening, the soldiers took the opportunity to once again abuse a civilian population that does not require anything other than their right to be treated as human beings, does not demand more that their right to see with their own eyes what happened, to save something if there was still something to save, to be able to return there, return to their second homes.

Women and children, old and young, all crowded on the other side of the fence, and separated from the special guests by a barrier of soldiers, shouting slogans against the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and inviting him to come and witness with his own eyes what his people is passing through, the same people that he repeatedly mentioned in his speeches, but according to many Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, he has completely forgotten.

“My parents came here in 1948 after they were expelled from Palestine by the Zionists. I was born, a few months later, in a tent provided by UNRWA, I have lived here all my life, but always dream of returning to my homeland Palestine. I’ve seen Lebanese forces massacre my brothers and sisters in Tel Zaatar Refugee Camp, then they did it in Sabra and Shatila, as they did it again with all our houses razed here in Nahr el-Bared, but here I am, standing in front of them, shouting at his face without fear, that they may take away our lives, they may bulldoze our homes, but they will never break our spirit of resistance,” said Um Mohammad, who along with her 3 daughters and 2 grandchildren joined the crowd in protest.

The Lebanese and Arab media have broadcast the ceremony, ignoring what was happening on the edge of the enclosed space, as if the Palestinians did not exist, as if what happened to them was not what really matters. Not even those media related to the resistance, the ones that every day and every second launch their attacks against the Zionists and become part by their words, in public and abroad, of the Palestinian cause, fighting side by side with the Palestinians against the Zionist occupation, but when things happen at home, when an opinion is expressed that may cause them loss of votes in an election, or even worse, when they cause political trouble that makes them lose some seats in positions of power, they prefer to remain silent and look the other way.

What is clear after this opening ceremony is the patent intention of the Lebanese government of trying to cover with a media blanket rumors about the future of the camp, the possible construction of a military base in the area, the deployment of permanent military forces inside the refugee camps in Lebanon, and therefore the future of over 450 thousand Palestinian refugees who have once again been silenced at gunpoint.

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Editor’s note: prior to publishing it, the author and I had a brief email exchange on it, and I would like to share with you her views.

“I have to say that after reading the article one more time, I found it not fair enough for what happened and I witnessed yesterday, not fair enough with the Palestinian refugees who were standing just at the edge of their enclosed camp looking at foreigners and VIP people passing through a military checkpoint that forbid them to cross. They were not able to put a foot over their destroyed houses and cry over them, but at the same time, people like me and 200 hundred more were there looking at them as if we were tourists with nothing better to do for the weekend.

My article was not fair enough with the thousands on Palestinians standing at the other side of the barbed wire with the guns of the soldiers pointing at their heads just in case they dare to move an inch, not allowed to be present in a ceremony where Lebanese and Palestinian authorities were celebrating the beginning of the process of the reconstruction of the camp, a process that everyone here knows will never ever come to reality, but they were there. The Palestinians were shouting at them and making it clear clear that they will never forget what happened there, even if the entire whole doesn’t give a shit.

The guns and tanks of the Lebanese army were not powerful enough to shout down these people, it will never be enough.

I have to say that I saw many “direct actions” from the army (Zionist one) against the Palestinians before, but nothing compared with what I saw yesterday.

I wish I could be a better writer, believe me I wish, for once to be fair with those people who yesterday grabbed my arms, shouting at me to do something, to take pictures, to let people know what is happening to them. I was the only one there, no journalists, no media, no curious people, all of them were busy listening the empty speeches of the authorities.

It was a painful experience, but also a real privilege for me to be there yesterday, sharing with them an angry moment, that no matter how ignorant the world it is regarding their daily suffering, they still shout, without fear, no matter how many tanks point at them, they still resist. Yesterday it was a pure act of resistance.

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Tennis Channel won’t Air Dubai Tournament – After Denying Israeli Player Visa

Posted in Public Opinion on February 19, 2009 by miragabi

That’s what I call double standards in media “solidarity”, I am intersecting this incident with the BBC and sky news decision not to broadcast an appeal made by British organizations and charities for donations to the people of Gaza.

The stupid thing is that those probably never heard of the hundreds that are denied visas to Israel every year simply because they want to visit PALESTINE, or those Arabs and Muslims who wish to visit the holy sites and aren’t allowed.

As much as I hate getting arts/culture/sports into politics, and building upon the South African model I am fully in favor of an academic and cultural boycott to Israeli governmental bodies or individuals who do not make explicit their rejection to the daily state terrorism acts committed by the criminal government(s) of Israel

It really won’t take her much effort to say something like : “I am fully aware of the reasons behind this ban and because I believe sports should be a motivator to peace and human empathy, I declare my rejection to the criminal acts committed by my Government towards Palestinian population ….

Ironically, the United Arab Emirates is one other Arab country that has undeclared commercial and even military cooperation with Israel/ Israeli companies, but in any case here is the website of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott: http://www.pacbi.org/

Source CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/02/19/tennis.channel.dubai/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

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Tennis Channel won’t air Dubai tournament

(CNN) — The Tennis Channel has canceled plans to broadcast a tournament in Dubai because an Israeli player was banned. Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates.  Shahar Peer, the 45th-ranked women’s player according to the World Tennis Association, qualified to compete in this week’s Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships but was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is one of the seven emirates of the UAE.

The cable network had planned to air parts of the tournament this weekend. “Tennis Channel recognizes that this exclusion has been made by state authorities and neither the tour nor tournament directors themselves,” said a statement posted on the channel’s Web site Wednesday. “However we also honor the role and proud tradition that tennis has always played as a driving force for inclusion both on and off the courts.

“Preventing an otherwise qualified athlete from competing on the basis of anything other than merit has no place in tennis or any other sport, and has the unfortunate result of undermining the credibility of the very nature of competition itself.”

The announcement comes the same day The Wall Street Journal Europe announced it is dropping its sponsorship of the tournament.

“The Wall Street Journal’s editorial philosophy is free markets and free people, and this action runs counter to the Journal’s editorial direction,” the Journal said in a written statement. The paper also said it plans to cancel a special tennis-themed advertising section scheduled for Monday and its backing of a men’s tournament in Dubai scheduled for next week.

After days of international criticism, including the WTA saying it would review whether the UAE should be allowed to host future tournaments, the event’s organizers said Peer was barred from the tournament for her own protection, apparently alluding to Israel’s recent military offensive in Gaza.

“We do not wish to politicize sports, but we have to be sensitive to recent events in the region and not alienate or put at risk the players and the many tennis fans of different nationalities that we have here,” organizers said in a written statement.

The statement cited anti-Israel protests before one of Peer’s matches at a recent tournament in New Zealand […]