Palestine coverage through 18 August 08

August 19, 2008

This selection of 18 articles from the week between August 11 and August 18th reflects some of the main issues being covered, not including the death of Mahmoud Darwish and Raja Shehadeh’s hiking through the hilltops of the West Bank. Another thing not covered (other than in the two concluding commentaries below, #s 17 and 18) is the so-called “shelf agreement” for Israel’s final borders proposed by Olmert to Abbas. While such an offer would normally dominate the news in any given week, the utter emptiness of the offer (no viable Palestinian territory, no equitable exchange for lands annexed) is not worth comment beyond the two pieces at the end of this selection laying out precisely why the “shelf agreement” is a non-starter.

Despite this, there is news of diplomatic activity from Rice’s apparent plan for another trip to the region, to Olmert’s “gesture to Abbas” of releasing 200 arbitrarily detained (i.e., abducted) Palestinian prisoners, to efforts to resolve controversy over one recent example of attempted Israeli colonization of further Palestinian land in the West Bank (through new outposts) by simply moving the outpost adjacent to another parcel of land illegally occupied by Israelis (turning the outpost debate to one about settlement expansion). And so the deck furniture is rearranged by yet another Israeli government clinging to the sinking ship of settlements while purportedly supporting a two-state solution.

Several articles below speak to the receding hopes for any two-state solution, precisely as a result of such strategies on the part of the Israeli government. An additional theme of the selection below is the continuing harassment, torture and murder to which Palestinians are daily subjected by Israel — ranging from the story about the exoneration of those who killed Palestinian journalist Fadel Shana, to stories about settler attacks on Palestinians, to the priceless piece on the apartheid system of 1948-Israel, where Palestinian citizens are not permitted in municipal swimming pools.

Finally, as Ramadan approaches it is fitting to include coverage of the ongoing shortages in Gaza, forcing a run on banks and restrictions on the desperate measures taken by Palestinians — e.g., trying to run cars on cooking oil — in order to avoid an even more extreme food shortage, i.e. the lack of cooking oil for Gazans to prepare their Ramadan iftar meals. As ever, a review of the week’s news from Palestine leaves one with little to do but hope that the next week proves somewhat less dire.

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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 18 July 08

July 18, 2008

Today’s news continues to be dominated by the Israel-Hezbollah prisoner exchange, of which coverage we have included only Robert Fisk’s commentary from the Independent. Other relevant news concerns the ongoing corruption hearings concerning Olmert and their impact on prospects for political breakthroughs under the current Israeli government. There is also news substantiating Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer’s account of torture at the hands of Israeli border control as he sought to return to Palestine after receiving an award in Europe. Finally, the Palestinian delegation currently in the US claims that a new round of peace talks have been scheduled — there will no doubt be more on this subject tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Palestine coverage through 08 July 08

July 8, 2008

After a long hiatus, Khaldoun returns to compiling sets of articles from the international English-language media coverage of the current situation in Israel/Palestine. The coverage of the last few days ranges from the fate of the truce in Gaza, to prisoner exchanges with Hezbollah, to Israeli collective punishment against the Palestinian citizens of East Jerusalem.

In addition, as Israel approaches a hot political season of its own, with the Olmert government teetering, there is some good analysis of the reasons why none of the potential candidates in the Israeli arena are capable of promising anything like a way out of the impasse in which Israel finds itself. None is willing to take the foundational step necessary for peace — dismantling the settlements — and as a result will continue the diversionary tactics of the last decade or so of Israeli politics — peripheral wars and skirmishes, threats against Iran and the like.

The ordeal of Mohammed Omer — the prize-winning Gazan journalist who was returning home after accepting an award in Europe — at the Allenby Bridge, described by Gideon Levy, is a poignant reminder of the daily humiliation and abuse that Israeli policy continues to impose. And oh yes, the Palestinian Authority continues to teeter in its own right while Israel makes repeated incursions in the West Bank (where, among other things, a girls’ school and a medical centre were raided and shut down by the Israelis today). Read the rest of this entry »

Palestine coverage through 4 Mar 08

March 4, 2008

One week has elapsed since the last article summary posted and what a week it has been! Israel managed to kill dozens of civilians in this short period while simultaneously pulling off another of its great PR triumphs, recharacterizing as *defensive* its military attack on a jam-packed tiny strip of land densely populated with trapped refugees possessing no defensive capacity of their own. One of the world’s most sophisticated armies is confronted with the equivalent of gerry-rigged molotov cocktails and responds by pounding the entire civilian population into the ground. Of course per Alan Dershowitz (publishing in today’s WSJ) there is no such thing as a civilian Palestinian or Lebanese, and indeed I would guess on his reasoning there are no Arab civilians more generally if said Arabs are in Israel’s cross-hairs. By his definition, a Palestinian, Lebanese or other Arab killed by Israel is a militant. Well, that’s not the take of B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, reporting on the tally of death from Israel’s mindless onslaught of last week — but more on that below. 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 »

Palestine coverage through 12 Feb 08

February 19, 2008

Today’s selections focuses on a number of notable news items — the
projection by both Israeli Vice PM Haim Ramon and PS premier Salem Fayyad that no peace deal will be likely in 2008, Israel’s failure to meet its basic “road map” commitments, and the fact that Olmert’s political future remains in doubt.

Then there are a couple of more surprising pieces indicating that the Palestinian population in the territories has increased by 30% despite killings, injuries and mass emigration since 2000, and perhaps less surprising but still striking, Israeli predictions that they will eliminate Hamas as an effective entity in Gaza within months. Read the rest of this entry »