Guyana Recognizes Palestinian Independence

January 14, 2011

Guyana becomes 7th South American state to recognize Palestinian independence
The country’s foreign ministry says decision comes in keeping with Guyana’s support of the ‘legitimate aspirations of the people of Palestine for the exercise of their right to self-determination.’

By Haaretz Service Published 09:01 14.01.11

Following Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile, Guyana has become the seventh South American nation to recognize an independent Palestinian state, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday.

In a statement by the country’s Foreign Ministry, Guyana’s said it hoped “that the increasing recognition of the state of Palestine will contribute to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the creation of lasting peace and stability in the region.”

The decision to recognize a Palestinian state, the statement added, was “in keeping with Guyana’s long-standing and unwavering solidarity with, and commitment to, the just and legitimate aspirations of the people of Palestine for the exercise of their right to self-determination and to achieve a homeland of their own, independent, free, prosperous and at peace.”

Last week, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced that he officially recognizes an independent Palestinian state, following the official recognition of Palestine by other Latin American countries.

Speaking a La Moneda Palace in Santiago, Pinera said the leaders of the country’s political parties “recognize the state of Palestine.”

A resolution calling on Pinera to recognize Palestine as an independent state was passed by the Chilean Senate two days earlier, Xinhua reported.

Last week, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that President Pinera is due to visit the West Bank in three months. He also announced the opening of a Palestinian embassy in Ecuador, which already declared its recognition of a Palestinian state.

Uruguay also announced that they planned to join Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia in recognizing a Palestinian state, and al-Maliki said that they would formally do so in March 2011.

Palestinians have been seeking international recognition of a state at a time when talks on a long-term peace settlement with Israel are deadlocked.

Earlier this month, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina recognized Palestine as an independent state within its borders prior to 1967, in decisions that the United States and Israel slammed as counterproductive and damaging.

IWW Votes to Support BDS

December 5, 2010

December 2, 2010 – The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) has officially voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights. The “Resolution in Support of the Workers of Palestine/Israel” was adopted in an overwhelming vote both at the IWW’s convention in Minneapolis and by the membership via referendum. This vote makes the IWW the first union in the US and the third union in Canada to officially support the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the BDS movement calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until such time as fundamental Palestinian rights are recognized. The BDS call is supported by a broad cross-section of Palestinian society, including Palestinian unions.

The resolution to support the BDS campaign comes out of the work of the IWW’s International Solidarity Commission and the IWW Friends of Palestinian Workers Group, a grassroots network of Wobblies supportive of the Palestinian, Israeli and international struggle against Israeli apartheid. Support for the BDS campaign was also stressed by all the Palestinian workers who met with members of the IWW on the IWW delegation to Palestine, particularly the Independent Workers Federation of Palestine, with whom the IWW shares a close bond of solidarity.

“For a union concerned with international solidarity, supporting the BDS movement is the right thing to do”, said IWW member Nathaniel Miller, who serves on the International Solidarity Commission and attended the IWW delegation to Palestine. “By officially supporting this BDS call, the IWW stands shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian workers in a global picket line against Israeli apartheid.”

“Our support of the BDS movement is in line with traditional wobbly principles of anti-racism and international solidarity”

The IWW Friends of Palestinian Workers Group resolves to continue to advance the cause of Palestinian rights inside and outside of the IWW.

Founded in 1905, the IWW is a union with a long tradition of solidarity and anti-militarism, and has been central to some of the most important struggles in US working class history. More recently, the IWW has been successful organizing at Starbucks and in the fast food industry, among workers long thought to be unorganizable. The IWW is an international union, with members across North America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

Brazil Recognizes Palestine on 1967 Borders

December 5, 2010

Al Jazeera English reports on the formal recognition by Brazil of Palestine as an independent state.

Brazil recognises Palestine
Israel expresses disappointment over Brazil’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders

Israel has expressed disappointment at Brazil’s decision to recognise a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, saying it flew in the face of efforts to negotiate a peace deal.

In a public letter addressed to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, on Friday, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, recognised Palestine as an independent state within the 1967 borders.

The decision came in response to a personal request made by Abbas on November 24, according to the letter published on the foreign ministry’s website on Friday.

“Considering that the demand presented by his excellency [Abbas] is just and consistent with the principles upheld by Brazil with regard to the Palestinian issue, Brazil, through this letter, recognises a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” it said.

The letter refers to the “legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people for a secure, united, democratic and economically viable state coexisting peacefully with Israel.”

Israel anger

A statement from the Israeli foreign ministry said: “The government of Israel expresses sadness and disappointment over the decision by the Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a month before he steps down.

“Recognition of a Palestinian state is a breach of the interim agreement which was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1995 which said that the issue of the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be discussed and resolved through negotiations,” it said.

Such a move also contravened the 2003 Middle East roadmap for peace, which said a Palestinian state could only be established through negotiations and not through unilateral actions, the statement said, warning that unilateral steps would harm attempts to build trust.

“Every attempt to bypass this process and to decide in advance in a unilateral manner about important issues which are disputed, only harms trust between the sides, and hurts their commitment to the agreed framework of negotiating towards peace,” the Israeli statement said.

International support

The international community backs Palestinian demands for a state in most of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, all territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 six day war.

But the United States and most Western governments have held back from recognising a Palestinian state, saying it should be brought about through a negotiated peace agreement with Israel.

In a parallel statement, the Brazilian government assured relations with Israel “have never been more robust.”

Brazil has offered to help mediate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which were briefly revived in September before grounding to a halt over the resumption of Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories.

Abbas says he will not return to negotiations while Israel continues to build on land the Palestinians want for a future state. But Israel has so far refused to impose a new ban.

Over the last few weeks, Abbas has repeatedly said he would explore other options if peace talks with the Israelis collapse, one of which would see him seeking United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

On Thursday, a Palestinian official said Washington had officially informed them that attempts to secure a new Israeli settlement freeze had failed, but US officials refused to confirm or deny the report.

Abbas visited Brazil in 2005 and 2009, and Lula made the first-ever trip by a Brazilian head of state to Palestine and Israel in March this year.

Micheal Keefer Interview in Vue Weekly

September 23, 2010

This week’s Vue Weekly features an interview with Michael Keefer, who is speaking in Edmonton on Monday, September 27 (7:00 pm) in the Telus Building 236/238 on the U of A campus.

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IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

April 13, 2010

An April 11, 2010 report in the Israeli paper Haaretz on the new military order in the West Bank.

IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank

By Amira Hass

A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.

When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.

Given the security authorities’ actions over the past decade, the first Palestinians likely to be targeted under the new rules will be those whose ID cards bear home addresses in the Gaza Strip – people born in Gaza and their West Bank-born children – or those born in the West Bank or abroad who for various reasons lost their residency status. Also likely to be targeted are foreign-born spouses of Palestinians.

Until now, Israeli civil courts have occasionally prevented the expulsion of these three groups from the West Bank. The new order, however, puts them under the sole jurisdiction of Israeli military courts.

The new order defines anyone who enters the West Bank illegally as an infiltrator, as well as “a person who is present in the area and does not lawfully hold a permit.” The order takes the original 1969 definition of infiltrator to the extreme, as the term originally applied only to those illegally staying in Israel after having passed through countries then classified as enemy states – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria.

The order’s language is both general and ambiguous, stipulating that the term infiltrator will also be applied to Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, citizens of countries with which Israel has friendly ties (such as the United States) and Israeli citizens, whether Arab or Jewish. All this depends on the judgment of Israel Defense Forces commanders in the field.

The Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual was the first Israeli human rights to issue warnings against the order, signed six months ago by then-commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria Area Gadi Shamni.

Two weeks ago, Hamoked director Dalia Kerstein sent GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi a request to delay the order, given “the dramatic change it causes in relation to the human rights of a tremendous number of people.”

According to the provisions, “a person is presumed to be an infiltrator if he is present in the area without a document or permit which attest to his lawful presence in the area without reasonable justification.” Such documentation, it says, must be “issued by the commander of IDF forces in the Judea and Samaria area or someone acting on his behalf.”

The instructions, however, are unclear over whether the permits referred to are those currently in force, or also refer to new permits that military commanders might issue in the future. The provision are also unclear about the status of bearers of West Bank residency cards, and disregards the existence of the Palestinian Authority and the agreements Israel signed with it and the PLO.

The order stipulates that if a commander discovers that an infiltrator has recently entered a given area, he “may order his deportation before 72 hours elapse from the time he is served the written deportation order, provided the infiltrator is deported to the country or area from whence he infiltrated.”

The order also allows for criminal proceedings against suspected infiltrators that could produce sentences of up to seven years. Individuals able to prove that they entered the West Bank legally but without permission to remain there will also be tried, on charges carrying a maximum sentence of three years. (According to current Israeli law, illegal residents typically receive one-year sentences.)

The new provision also allow the IDF commander in the area to require that the infiltrator pay for the cost of his own detention, custody and expulsion, up to a total of NIS 7,500.

The fear that Palestinians with Gaza addresses will be the first to be targeted by this order is based on measures that Israel has taken in recent years to curtail their right to live, work, study or even visit the West Bank. These measures violated the Oslo Accords.

According to a decision by the West Bank commander that was not backed by military legislation, since 2007, Palestinians with Gaza addresses must request a permit to stay in the West Bank. Since 2000, they have been defined as illegal sojourners if they have Gaza addresses, as if they were citizens of a foreign state. Many of them have been deported to Gaza, including those born in the West Bank.

Currently, Palestinians need special permits to enter areas near the separation fence, even if their homes are there, and Palestinians have long been barred from the Jordan Valley without special authorization. Until 2009, East Jerusalemites needed permission to enter Area A, territory under full PA control.

Another group expected to be particularly harmed by the new rules are Palestinians who moved to the West Bank under family reunification provisions, which Israel stopped granting for several years.

In 2007, amid a number of Hamoked petitions and as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tens of thousands of people received Palestinian residency cards. The PA distributed the cards, but Israel had exclusive control over who could receive them. Thousands of Palestinians, however, remained classified as “illegal sojourners,” including many who are not citizens of any other country.

The new order is the latest step by the Israeli government in recent years to require permits that limit the freedom of movement and residency previously conferred by Palestinian ID cards. The new regulations are particularly sweeping, allowing for criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response, “The amendments to the order on preventing infiltration, signed by GOC Central Command, were issued as part of a series of manifests, orders and appointments in Judea and Samaria, in Hebrew and Arabic as required, and will be posted in the offices of the Civil Administration and military courts’ defense attorneys in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria.”

Action: Canada Cuts Aid to UNRWA

January 29, 2010

The head of the UNRWA in Gaza, John Ging

Please take 30 seconds to help restore Canadian aid to UNRWA in this action call from Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.

Last week, the Harper government quietly announced that after decades of support, Canada was ceasing aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Founded in 1949, UNRWA is the primary organ to provide aid to Palestinian refugees scattered around the world. The Harper government’s decision represents a cruel break from Canada’s traditionally supportive and humane position vis-à-vis the Palestinian refugees.

Please click here to send an email to the all Party leaders, as well as MPs in your locale, challenging them on this decision.

The Palestinian refugees need our support.

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Israel Arrests Bil’in Activist Mohammed Khatib

January 29, 2010

Mohammed Khatib during a visit to Montreal. Photo: Valerian Mazataud

A report from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

In the highest profile arrest of the recent wave of repression against West Bank popular struggle, Israeli soldiers arrested Mohammed Khatib on January 28 before dawn. Khatib is a member of Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlement in the West Bank village of Bil’in and the coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

At a quarter to two AM tonight, Mohammed Khatib, his wife Lamia and their four young children were woken up by Israeli soldiers storming their home, which was surrounded by a large military force. Once inside the house, the soldiers arrested Khatib, conducted a quick search and left the house.

Roughly half an hour after leaving the house, five military jeeps surrounded the house again, and six soldiers forced their way into the house again, where Khatib’s children sat in terror, and conducted another, very thorough search of the premises, without showing a search warrant. During the search, Khatib’s phone and many documents were seized, including papers from Bil’in’s legal procedures in the Israel High Court.

The soldiers exited an hour and a half later, leaving a note saying that documents suspected as “incitement materials” were seized. International activists who tried to enter the house to be with the family during the search were aggressively denied entry.

Mohammed Khatib was previously arrested during the ongoing wave of arrests and repression on August 3rd, 2009 with charges of incitement and stone throwing. After two weeks of detention, a military judge ruled that evidence against him was falsified and ordered his release, after it was proven that Khatib was abroad at the time the army alleged he was photographed throwing stones during a demonstration.

Khatib’s arrest today is the most severe escalation in a recent wave of repression again the Palestinian popular struggle and its leadership. Khatib is the 35th resident of Bil’in to be arrested on suspicions related to anti-Wall protest since June 23rd, 2009.

The recent wave of arrests is largely an assault on the members of the Popular Committees – the leadership of the popular struggle – who are then charged with incitement when arrested. The charge of incitement, defined under Israeli military law as “an attempt, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order,” is a cynical attempt to punish grassroots organizing with a hefty charge and lengthy imprisonments. Such indictments are part of the army’s strategy of using legal persecution as a means to quash the popular movement.

Similar raids have also been conducted in the village of alMaasara, south of Bethlehem, and in the village of Ni’ilin – where 110 residents have been arrested over the last year and half, as well as in the cities of Nablus, Ramallah and East Jerusalem.

Among those arrested in the recent campaign are three members of the Ni’ilin Popular Committee, Sa’id Yakin of the Palestinian National Committee Against the Wall, and five members of the Bil’in Popular Committee – all suspected of incitement.

Prominent grassroots activists Jamal Jum’a (East Jerusalem) and Mohammed Othman (Jayyous) of the Stop the Wall NGO, involved in anti-Wall and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigning, have recently been released from detention after being incarcerated for long periods based on secret evidence and with no charges brought against them.

Interview with Dr. Mads Gilbert

January 22, 2010

An excellent interview from Edmonton’s Vue Weekly with PSN’s upcoming speaker, Dr. Mads Gilbert.

Isolated Aid
Western doctor witness to brutal occupation

David Berry /

Norweigan politician and physician Dr. Mads Gilbert has seen more than his share of horror in the Middle East. After visiting Beirut during the Isreal-L ebanon war, and witnessing the bombing of West Beirut in 1982, he has devoted his life to medical solidarity work with the injured and infirm of one of the world’s most volatile and violent in areas.

For the past 15 years, he has focused his efforts on Palestine, training medical professionals and providing medical aid for civilians during the Israeli occupation. It was this work that lead to him and his colleauge Dr. Erik Fosse to Gaza in late 2008 when Israel began its bombing campaign. Due to the clamping down on western doctors and media by the Israeli government, they would become the only western witnesses to the brutal and horrific attacks.

Dr. Gilbert is coming to Edmonton to share his experiences during the attacks as part of the Palestinian Solidarity Network’s Eyes in Gaza event, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the incident. Vue Weekly had a chance to speak with Dr. Gilbert from his home in Norway, just before he left for his cross-Canada tour.

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For Israel, a Reckoning

January 19, 2010

A January 14 article by John Pilger written for the New Statesman.

For Israel, a reckoning
A new global movement is challenging Israel’s violations of international law with the same strategies that were used against apartheid

John Pilger

The farce of the climate summit in Copenhagen affirmed a world war waged by the rich against most of humanity. It also illuminated a resistance growing perhaps as never before: an internationalism linking justice for the planet with universal human rights, and criminal justice for those who invade and dispossess with impunity. And the best news comes from Palestine.

The Palestinians’ resistance to the theft of their country reached a critical moment in 2001 when a UN conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, identified Israel as an apartheid state. To Nelson Mandela, justice for the Palestinians is “the greatest moral issue of the age”. The Palestinian civil society call for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions (BDS) was issued on 9 July 2005, in effect reconvening the great, non-violent movement that swept the world and brought the scaffolding of African apartheid crashing down.

“Through decades of occupation and dispossession,” wrote Mustafa Barghouti, a wise voice of Palestinian politics, “90 per cent of the Palestinian struggle has been non-violent … A new generation of Palestinian leaders [now speaks] to the world precisely as Martin Luther King did. The same world that rejects all use of Palestinian violence, even clear self-defence, surely ought not begrudge us the non-violence employed by men such as King and Gandhi.”

No more a taboo

In the United States and Europe, trade unions, mainstream churches and academic associations have brought back the strategies that were used against apartheid South Africa. In a resolution adopted by 431 votes to 62, the US Presbyterian Church voted for a process of “phased, selective disinvestment” in multinational corporations doing business with Israel. This followed the opinion of the International Court of Justice that Israel’s wall and its “settler” colonies were illegal. A similar declaration by the court in 1971, denouncing South Africa’s occupation of Namibia, ignited the international boycott.

Like the South Africa campaign, the issue of law is central. No state is allowed to flout international law as wilfully as Israel. In 1990, a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Saddam Hussein get out of Kuwait was the same, almost word for word, as the one demanding that Israel get out of the West Bank. Iraq was driven out while Israel has been repeatedly rewarded. On 11 December, Barack Obama announced $2.8bn in “aid” for Israel, part of the $30bn US taxpayers will gift from their stricken economy during this decade.

The hypocrisy is now well understood in the US. A “Stolen Beauty” campaign pursues Ahava cosmetics, which are made in illegal West Bank “settlements”; last autumn it forced the firm to drop its “ambassador” Kristin Davis, a star of Sex and the City. In Britain, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are under pressure to identify “settlement” products, whose sale contravenes human rights provisions in the European Union’s trade agreement with Israel.

In Australia, a consortium led by Veolia lost its bid for a billion-dollar desalination plant following a campaign highlighting a plan, involving the French firm, to build a light rail connecting Jerusalem to the “settlements”. In Norway, the government pension fund has withdrawn its investment in the Israeli hi-tech company Elbit Systems, which helped build the wall across Palestine. This is the first official boycott by a western country.

In 2005, Britain’s Association of University Teachers (AUT) voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. The AUT was forced to retreat when the Israel lobby unleashed a blizzard of character assassination and charges of anti-Semitism. The writer and activist Omar Barghouti called this “intellectual terror”: a perversion of morality and logic that says to be against racism towards Palestinians makes one anti-Semitic. However, the Israeli assault on Gaza on 27 December 2008 changed almost everything. The US Campaign for an Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was formed, with Desmond Tutu on its advisory board. In 2009, Britain’s Trade Union Congress voted for a consumer boycott. The “Israel taboo” is no more.

Crimes against humanity

Complementing this is the rapid development of international criminal law since the Pinochet case of 1998-99, when the former Chilean dictator was placed under house arrest in Britain. Israeli warmongers now face similar prosecution in countries that have “universal jurisdiction” laws. In Britain, the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 is fortified by the UN report on Gaza by Justice Richard Goldstone, which in December obliged a London magistrate to issue a warrant for the arrest of Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister wanted for crimes against humanity. And in September, only contrived diplomatic immunity rescued Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister during the assault on Gaza, from arrest by Scotland Yard.

Just over a year ago, 1,400 defenceless people in Gaza were murdered by the Israelis. On 29 December, Mohamed Jassier became the 367th Gazan to die because even those needing life-saving medical treatment are not allowed free passage out. Keep that in mind when you next watch the BBC “balance” such suffering with the weasel protestations of the oppressors.

There is a clear momentum now. To mark the first anniversary of the Gaza atrocity, a humanitarian procession from 42 countries—Muslims, Jews, Christians, atheists, old and young, trade unionists, writers, artists, musicians and those leading convoys of food and medicine—converged on Egypt. And even though the US-bribed dictatorship in Cairo prevented most from proceeding to Gaza, the people in that open prison knew they were not alone, and children climbed on walls and raised the Palestinian flag. And this is just a beginning.

John Pilger, renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker, is one of only two to have twice won British journalism’s top award; his documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US. In a New Statesman survey of the 50 heroes of our time, Pilger came fourth behind Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. “John Pilger,” wrote Harold Pinter, “unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him.”

Québec solidaire Supports Pro-Palestine BDS Campaign

December 2, 2009

The 300 delegates to the Québec solidaire convention voted unanimously, with a standing ovation, to endorse the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions “against Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid.”

The vote followed a special presentation to the convention on November 21 by members of the Coalition pour la Justice et la Paix en Palestine, which is developing a campaign in Quebec in support of the call issued by 170 Palestinian organizations for an international movement in opposition to apartheid Israel. The Coalition comprises 17 — now 18, with the inclusion of Québec solidaire — organizations in Quebec: Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups, NGOs, the Quebec Federation of Women (FFQ) and a major teachers’ union affiliated with the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN). The Coalition maintained a literature table at the convention.

The QS delegates resolved:

1. To respond favourably to the call of Palestinian civil society;
2. To commit to active support of the campaign for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions until Israel respects international law and the rights of the Palestinians; and
3. To participate, with the other groups, associations and unions in Quebec society that are already involved in the BDS campaign, in discussions and actions concerning this campaign.

In the brief discussion following the presentation, one delegate noted the need to pressure the CSN and the Quebec Federation of Labour (FTQ) to stop investing in Israeli corporations through their “solidarity” investment funds, which mobilize workers’ savings ostensibly in support of small and medium-sized businesses.

However, it was agreed that this convention would vote only on the principle of support, and leave the issue of how to implement the campaign to later discussion both in QS and with the other members of the coalition.

by Richard Fidler for the Socialist Voice.


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