Montag, 5. November 2007

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Zuvor: Gunmen and Palestinian police exchanged fire in a densely populated refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday, injuring five people and renewing tensions between militants and the Palestinian government, which has vowed to disarm gunmen in hopes of restarting Mideast peace negotiations. ... The fight started after Palestinian police confiscated a gun from an Al Aqsa member in Nablus, prompting gunmen in nearby Balata to fire at Palestinian police stationed at the camp's edge. Four civilians and a policeman were wounded in the intermittent battles which went on for several hours.

Caellum Maffat, "Walking in Paradise": Whether a Palestinian, an Israeli settler or a foreigner currently residing in the West Bank, engaging in whatever activity that makes the days pass, all are undeniably guilty of the same crime – obstinate blindness. I am not talking about blindness toward each other with regard to the political situation nor am I attempting to highlight and promote mutual sensitivity, respect or coexistence. I am stressing the existence of blindness of another kind. It is a kind more visually obvious but yet somewhat overlooked – the disregard for the sheer beauty of the West Bank landscape. With this said, it is not so surprising an occurrence when one considers the current climate. There are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints dispersed throughout the West Bank and over 120 Israeli settlements with a combined population of 450,000. Hundreds of kilometers of pristine roads, exclusively for Israeli use, connect these settlements with their place of destination. In addition, there stands a nine meter high, approximately 800 kilometer long wall which weaves through the West Bank.

Ian Black, "Saudis Signal Doubts Over Middle East Peace Talks Called by US": Saudi Arabia has signalled that it will not attend the Middle East peace conference scheduled by the US for this month unless there is significant agreement in advance on the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. But Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister, also held out a vision of normalisation between the Arab world and Israel - "not just the absence of war" - if the conflict could be resolved. "We need a successful meeting. To be successful it must deal with the main issues of peace in the Middle East: Jerusalem, borders, the return of the Palestinians," he told reporters at the end of the Saudi state visit to London yesterday.

Moshe Amirav, "Lessons from the failed peace talks at Camp David": This month US President George W. Bush proposes to host an international conference in Annapolis, near Washington, in the hope of advancing a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. The failures of previous attempts - in Madrid in 1991, in Oslo in 1993 and at Camp David in 2000 - highlight the difficulties. What have we learned from these failures to suggest that the same errors in judgment will recur?

Avi Issacharoff, "PA Infigthing - Blood Brothers": The Palestinian organizations responsible for the massive firing of Qassam rockets and mortar rounds at Israel over the past few days may harbor hostility toward one another, but they share a common goal: Dragging Israel into a massive activity in the Gaza Strip. Yesterday, it was the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades that fired a heavy salvo of rockets at Sderot. But despite their affiliation, the men who launched the rockets are not taking orders from Fatah chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

David Kimche, "The enemy within": Our worst enemies do not live in Ramallah, nor even in Gaza. No, they can be found in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem, in Haifa. They live in our midst. They are motivated by greed, by avarice. They wear expensive suits, don the latest in ties. The high cost lawyer with, oh, such refined cultural taste who swindled tens of millions of dollars from Holocaust survivors without batting an eyelid, is one of them. In my book he rates high up, at the top of the list of the worst of the worst.

Ramzy Baroud, "A case for arab dignity": The ongoing socio-economic and political ills that mar potential progress in Middle Eastern countries can largely be attributed to the ill-defined foreign policy of the United States. Utterly desperate situations have arisen whereby US clients rule with an iron fist, making prospects for a meaningful democracy sit at an all-time low. However it would be nothing less than self-deception to elucidate Arab social, economic and political ailments exclusively on US-Israeli military and political belligerency; there needs to be an element of self-reflection and responsibility to make viable any pragmatic steps towards improvement and justice.

Sam Bahour, "Jerusalem…The East Side Story (2007) - Dispossession, Occupation, and a Challenge to Survive": Was it sheer coincidence, sad irony, or just another day in Palestinian life under Israeli military occupation? It was hard to tell. My father and I drove through the last Israeli checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem while heading to the Palestinian National Theatre at the invitation of The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC) to attend the premiere of a new documentary on Jerusalem. The car radio switched from music to a news report – another Palestinian home in Jerusalem was demolished this morning by Israeli occupation authorities, leaving yet another Palestinian family homeless. We listened in disgust, sighed, but did not comment to each other for we would only be repeating ourselves.

Kris Petersen, "Welcome to Gaza": Khalil laughs and shakes head as we dine along the seaside terrace of Gaza’s luxurious al-Deira Hotel. “This is not Gaza,” he says, dismissively gesturing towards the hotel’s maroon exterior and the tables of dining European journalists. “The real Gaza is just down the street, where 1,000 people are living on a single street block.” He chuckles ironically and slaps me on the back. “And here, we can’t even drink a whiskey to drown our sorrows!” I had only been in Gaza for two days, yet I immediately appreciated the locals’ uniquely fatalistic humor. Perhaps it’s almost a reflection on Gaza’s manifest resilience and remarkable ability to shrug off the tragedy of an environment in perpetual crisis. I arrived in the Gaza Strip on the morning of Friday, August 31st eager to begin work with the Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR). It was my first trip to the occupied territories, despite having studied the situation for so long, and as I approached the Eretz Military Checkpoint, I felt the excitement of finally getting into this tiny piece of land. In early 2007, I had begun inquiring about traveling to Gaza with various Israeli embassy officials, mostly unfamiliar with the process of acquiring proper security clearance and one of whom flatly hung up when I asked. Undaunted and clearly in need of additional for additional help, I contacted academics, journalists, Palestinian bloggers, aid workers and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) only to receive different explanations from each source.

Terry Walz, "Gazans place at Annapolis": The phantasma of peace scheduled to appear in Annapolis, where an international conference is to take place some time in "November or December" - the latest Haaretz guesstimate - has been the subject of a steady round of talking head and diplomatic activity. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is meeting "two days in a row" with her Palestinian counterpart Ahmed Qurei on undisclosed subjects; Prime Minister Salem Fayad is meeting with Minister of Defense Ehud Barak on how to revive the "roadmap" - which many of us outside the Bush administration had long considered dead; and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is making yet another trip to the Middle East to assess the timing and invitation list (still not revealed), hoping the Saudis can be persuaded to attend, but more probably to gather up crumbs from the on-going conversations that can be recycled as offerings for the Annapolis negotiating table attendees.

Ghassan Latib, "Jerusalem embodies the conflict": It is not known yet whether the Annapolis meeting is going to deal with final status issues. Indeed, until now the main area that is being worked out between the parties is what level of substance this meeting should deal with and whether it is going to present a document that marks political progress on final status issues or just repeat the already existing commitment of the parties to negotiate these issues, already stipulated in the Oslo Declaration of Principles as Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security, water and borders.

Yossi Alpher, "Jerusalem won't be resolved at Annapolis": Jerusalem and the refugee/right of return issue were the two principal areas of Israeli-Palestinian disagreement that caused the collapse of the Oslo process at Camp David in July 2000 and thereafter. Since that time, we have only moved farther apart on them. But while the refugee issue has been dormant during the current countdown to Annapolis--both sides appear to understand that the extent of disagreement precludes even preliminary maneuvering--PM Ehud Olmert's government has publicly highlighted its plans for Jerusalem, thereby exacerbating tensions within Israel and between Israelis and Palestinians.

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