Palestine coverage through 23 Feb 08

Today’s news roundup begins with the grim tally of Palestinians killed and injured by the most recent rounds of Israeli strikes within their territories. The story of the Japanese translator shot in the eye by the IDF as he observed a nonviolent protest of the Wall at Bilin is especially typical of the senseless brutality of life day-in, day-out under Israeli occupation. It is also representative of the stories that are never picked up from the wires in the mainstream press because they might suggest to English-speaking audiences that Palestinians are engaging in nonviolent resistance.

Additional pieces that reflect the daily struggle to survive under occupation include news of the extension of the Israeli closure of all Palestinian representation in East Jerusalem as well as the denial of 94% of all requested permits to build in the West Bank and East Jerusalem submitted by Palestinians even as settlement activity to create Israeli facts on the ground in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank goes forward. Similarly, the news of Hamas suggesting openness to a ceasefire is juxtaposed this week, as ever, with the popularity in Israel of plans to engage in a large-scale military attack on the Gaza Strip.

As the selection turns to issues at a higher level of abstraction from the daily grind of life in the territories, additional pieces reveal that the purportedly lightning coup by Hamas in Gaza in 2007 was actually something Fatah and Abbas were aware of in advance. Another article indicates that Arab leaders are convinced that Israeli actions since Annapolis have doomed that initiative and the two-state solution more generally, while a separate piece notes that efforts to discredit American presidential candidates on the basis of an Israel litmus test continue apace. In addition, there is an interesting piece in the Guardian detailing the lengths to which the British Foreign Office went to cover up the internal assessment in the run-up to the Iraq war that Israel ranked together with Iraq in its flouting of the Security Council and its pursuit of WMD.

An article by Ted Galen Carpenter details contingency plans, at the behest of the US, for putting NATO forces in the West Bank (to relieve Israel of its duties as camp warden for the millions of interned Palestinians living under siege in the territories). The presence of NATO troops in the West Bank would of course be to protect Israeli interests, not those of Palestinians. It is not the only reversal of the Kosovo scenario for Palestinians this week (recall that over 17,000 NATO troops are stationed in that tiny province to guard Kosovar interests against their fierce Serbian neighbors). Not only are Palestinians to be subjected to contingency plans to be placed under NATO internment (rather than NATO protection), but they must not invoke Kosovo’s recent and widely recognized independent status to make their own self-determination claims internationally. After all, with Israel recognizing Kosovar independence, the symmetry with the Palestinian case would be an uncomfortable public relations snafu. Luckily Abbas is handy to ensure that the Israelis not face any such bad PR.

There are also a number of opinion pieces towards the end of the selection, the last of which is especially poignant. The ever vigilant Gideon Levy details the persecution of villagers in the West Bank village of Azoun, near Qalqilya, where the IDF has imposed a curfew, distributed leaflets threatening collective punishment and is preparing to raze the village youth center. Levy asks whether it is a return to the patterns and tactics of the first intifada. For those of you who read Darryl Li’s excellent piece in MERIP on Gaza (in a previous news summary on Khaldoun), you will remember his analysis that we are witnessing an evolution of tactics in Gaza spiraling from imprisonment and collective punishment to the quarantining and permanent subjection of the population to conditions resembling those of an animal pen more than a bantustan.

A similar (though, thanks to divide-and-conquer strategy and Israeli goals of annexation, not identical) process unfolds in the West Bank, where even the standards of the first intifada begin to look humane when compared with the conditions currently being imposed under cover of a “peace process” between the Israelis and the ever-compliant Fatah-led PA. As Levy notes at the close of his piece, what this means for villages like Azoun is the promise the Israeli Civil Administration gave to a resident: “We will erase Azoun yet.” And with it the promise of an independent Palestine.
__________________________________________________________
1. THREE PALESTINIANS KILLED IN ISRAELI STRIKE ON NORTHERN GAZA
By Yuval Azoulay
Haaretz (Israel)
February 23, 2008

2. JAPANESE SAYS HE MAY LOSE EYE FROM ISRAELI BULLET
Agence France Presse
February 22, 2008
3. REPORT: ABBAS KNEW OF GAZA WARNINGS
By Mohammed Daraghmeh
Associated Press
February 23, 2008
4. PRISON DEATH SPARKS FATAH-HAMAS TENSION
By Dalia Nammari
Associated Press
February 23, 2008

5. ISRAEL EXTENDS CLOSURE OF PALESTINIAN OFFICES IN EAST JERUSALEM
Associated Press
February 22, 2008

6. HAMAS: WE WON’T RULE OUT ANY BID FOR CEASE-FIRE WITH ISRAEL
Haaretz (Israel)
February 22, 2008

7. ISRAELIS SUPPORT MAJOR MILITARY PUSH IN GAZA
Angus Reid Global Monitor (Canada)
February 18, 2008

8. PALESTINIANS’ HOME PERMIT PLEAS REJECTED
Associated Press
February 21, 2008

9. EU LAWMAKERS LAMBAST ISRAEL OVER GAZA
By Ingrid Melander
Reuters
February 21, 2008

10. HOW [UK] LABOUR USED THE LAW TO KEEP CRITICISM OF ISRAEL SECRET
By Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian (UK)
February 21, 2008

11. SURGING IN PRIMARIES, OBAMA FACES NEW ISRAEL-RELATED CRITICISM
By Ron Kampeas
Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
February 22, 2008

12. ARAB LEADERS SAY THE TWO-STATE PROPOSAL IS IN PERIL
By Michael Slackman
The New York Times
February 22, 2008

13. PA WON’T FOLLOW KOSOVO MODEL, ALL AGREE
Jerusalem Post (Israel)
February 21, 2008

14. INSIDE TRACK: NATO’S WEST BANK NIGHTMARE
By Ted Galen Carpenter
The National Interest
February 20, 2008

15. ISRAEL’S SETTLEMENT ACTIVITIES UNDER WAY
By Mohammed Mari
Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
February 21, 2008

16. CONSTRUCTION CONTINUING IN WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS DESPITE PM’S PLEDGE
By Amoss Harel
Haaretz (Israel)
February 20, 2008

17. U.S. TO ANNOUNCE NEW AID PLAN FOR WEST BANK, GAZA STRIP
By Barak Ravid
Haaretz (Israel)
February 22, 2008

18. HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREPARE FOR THE WORST
By Daniel Levy
Haaretz (Israel)
February 23, 2008

19. WHAT AMERICA WANTS FROM AN OPERATION IN GAZA
By Shmuel Rosner
Haaretz (Israel)
February 21, 2008

20. FOR PALESTINIANS, THE POWER OF MASS NON-VIOLENCE WOULD BE UNDENIABLE
By Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian (United Kingdom)
February 20, 2008

21. INTIFADA REDUX
By Gideon Levy
Haaretz (Israel)
February 18, 2008

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