Palestine coverage through 3 August 08

August 4, 2008

The most momentous development of the week — at least according to the English-language press — in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the announcement by Olmert that he plans to step down after the Kadima party selects a new leader. In reality, the more important events may have taken place in Palestine — whether in the explosion last Friday (7/25) in Gaza that killed Hamas personnel and a 6-year old child and set off the worst intra-Palestinian fighting in a year (pushing factional talks of national unity back to square one), or in the escalation of violence by the IDF attempting to force nonviolent Palestinian protesters in Bilin and Nilin to a tipping point that will trigger the collapse of nonviolent protest.

The nonviolent protests of Palestinians, at any rate, generally receive no coverage unless the Israelis shoot and kill children at them. So it is that Nilin made the news this week when the IDF shot live ammunition at an 10-year old boy, killing him with a head wound. The Israeli response to this atrocity was to also fire live ammunition at his funeral and then to barricade the village itself. Also today, in an unexceptional parallel, Haaretz is reporting that Israeli settlers hurled a brick injuring a 7-year old Palestinian girl.

The selection of press coverage below reflects more comment on the Olmert resignation and its implications for the “peace process” than anything else, since the only significant commentary in English on the situation this week had that focus. There are also pieces giving an overview of the pretenders to Olmert’s throne — Shaul Mofaz and Tzipi Livni — neither of whom is the least bit desirable as the articles below make clear. Still, it remains a telling characterization of the PA leadership that they appear to be the only ones willing to mourn Olmert’s passing from the Israeli political scene (according to one piece below, the PA negotiators see Olmert’s departure as a “heavy blow”).

Finally, in a week when Obama — fresh from his rock-star reception abroad — has engaged in further back-pedaling on his positions of “principle” (some offshore drilling is acceptable; the military option against Iran must remain on the table, etc.), the selection closes with a fitting analysis from Al-Ahram Weekly that the Candidate of Change represents nothing but the status quo. Read the rest of this entry »

Palestine coverage through 23 July 08

July 23, 2008

The news of the beginning of the week has been dominated by Obama’s visit to the region and the coverage of an IDF soldier shooting at the leg of a blindfolded, handcuffed and bound Palestinian non-violent protester in Nilin. Though the Israelis initially detained the soldier in question when footage of the incident emerged, he has since been sent back to his unit. Moreover, at the time of the incident, no one in the unit took notice or intervened, suggesting that contrary to the Israeli government’s assertions, such actions are entirely part of the IDF protocol when dealing with unarmed Palestinians.

Also included is coverage of British PM Gordon Brown’s call for Israel to halt settlements during his visit to Israel, ongoing Israeli abductions and detentions of Palestinians from the West Bank — this time including an elected woman legislator — and leaked information suggesting that Israel is contemplating a prisoner swap of Marwan Barghouti (they have long been seeking a basis to release him) for Gilad Shalit. Mahmoud Abbas reportedly has complained of Israel’s departure from the Annapolis commitments, and on a similar note Haaretz reports that Israel is worried that even the Bush administration will give it poor marks for its West Bank policies. Read the rest of this entry »

Palestine coverage through 23 Feb 08

February 24, 2008

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Palestine coverage through 16 Feb 08

February 20, 2008

This selection (longer than usual, but covering more days) brings together the interesting and/or noteworthy (for better or worse) news and commentary of the last 3 or 4 days. I include a few articles that provide an overview of the current tension in Lebanon where the anniversary of the Hariri assassination coincided with the assasination –being attributed throughout the region to Israel — of senior Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh. The ongoing destabilization of Lebanon serves the interests of many of the same players that are only too happy to extend the status quo in Israel-Palestine at the expense of the Palestinians.

Imad Mughneyah

In terms of news, it is a case of plus ca change — Israel looks for international support for a massive operation in Gaza while simultaneously proceeding with a tender for expanding its illegal settlements in East Jerusalem with over 1000 new units. A Palestinian woman is deprived of medical care by the IDF and dies while 8 are killed in a blast in Gaza (part of the “relative quiet” enjoyed by Israel, no doubt). The UN notes that the situation in Gaza is grim, while Gazan produce rots under Israeli sanctions. The last piece in the selection is Olmert’s claim that borders are not an important stumbling block in the “peace process.” Not entirely plausible, but few such claims ever end up mattering in any case.

In terms of commentary the NY Times reporter covers with great sympathy Israel’s “quandary” in Gaza — Israeli suffering at the hands of the rudimentary “rockets” lobbed over from Gaza is the focus, with military strategy being the “solution” considered at greatest length by the interviews undertaken by Erlanger, published first in the Herald Tribune and then picked up for the domestic audience in the NYT. Read the rest of this entry »