Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A sad day for peace

Martin Indyk has been full of hope regarding the latest Mid East talks but Martin Indyk has always been an optimist - even when he was Ambassador in Israel. He is a nice guy however, which covers a multitude of sins, and he's not proud, which covers even more.

Hamas told the NCF in Gaza last week they feared there would be no way to stop more violence. The tragic killings in the West Bank today are just the beginning, though the reason for the timing is the same old tit for tat revenge for an assisnation by Israel we are so used to. See: http://middleeastanalyst.com/2010/08/30/israel-assassinates-another-hamas-commander/

Sadly in any case this peace process is conducted by the same team of dinosaurs as all the others:


So what hope?

Well there would be hope if the Obama team were committed to steamrollering it through with Israel. The German prisoner swop negotiators have been called back in by Israel which is positive (the release of Barghouti into the West bank being a vital pre-cursor to a credible peace). But they are not going to release him. Not in the face of Hamas violence.

So we are doomed. Peace is inevitable. Just not yet. The whole point (from Israel's perspective) of doing this now was to distract it's population from noticing that they were doing nothing on Iran whilst the nuclear plant comes on line. In this Netanyahu has succeeded. What a consummate genius. And the Hamas violence will mean he can squirm out of the settlement freeze if he wishes (though he may be a shrewd enough statesman to keep it going in some form).

Such times.

The Palestinian Delegation to Washington

The PLO Negotiations Department sent us the names of their delegation to Washington for the September talks. They are all familiar names and faces from the old guard who have done this a hundred times before. Specifically:


Born in Safad, Palestine in 1935, Mahmoud Abbas, and his family fled Palestine in 1948, becoming refugees in Syria. He lived in exile until 1994, when he came to the Occupied Palestinian Territories as part of the Palestinian negotiation team. He has three children and eight grandchildren.
Political Career
Mahmoud Abbas is a founding member of Fatah, the largest political party in the Palestine Liberation Organization (“PLO”). Mr. Abbas has been a member of the Fatah Central Committee since 1964 and a member of the Palestinian National Council (“PNC” – the Palestinian government in exile) since 1968. Since 1980, Mr. Abbas has been a member of the PLO Executive Committee. Mr. Abbas also served as the head of the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department between 1994 and 2003. In 2005 he was elected President of the Palestinian National Authority. He is also the chairman of the PLO after late Yasser Arafat.
In 1974, he was responsible for opening channels of communications with Israeli peace groups and was the primary force behind the PNC’s decision to work with these groups.
Mr. Abbas is the signatory of the 1993 Declaration of Principles that launched the Oslo Peace Process. In 1995, he signed the Oslo Agreements, also known as the Interim Agreements.
Mr. Abbas holds a Ph.D. in History from Oriental College in Moscow and a B.A. in Law from Damascus University. He is the author of several books in Arabic including, The Other Side, The Fall of the Netanyahu Government and The Road to Oslo. He enjoys Arabic poetry, classical Arabic music and the study of history.
Dr. Erakat was born on April 28, 1955 in Jerusalem. He currently resides in Jericho.
Political Career
Dr. Erakat began his political career in 1991, as Vice Chairman of the Palestinian Negotiating Delegation. He then served as Head of the Palestinian Election Commission (1993 – 1996). In that time, he also served as the Chairman of the Palestinian Negotiating Delegation for Elections. He was appointed as Minister of Local Government in 1994, a position he held until 2003. Since 1996, Dr. Erakat has been an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, a seat he won in 1996 and then again in 2006. Also in 1996, Dr. Erakat was selected to lead the Palestinian side of the Steering and Monitoring Committee. In 2003, President Abbas named Dr. Erakat as Chief Palestinian Negotiator and Head of the PLO’s Negotiations Affairs Department.
Dr. Erakat was a professor of Political Science at Al Najah University in Nablus between 1979 and 1991, when he took a leave of absence. He was also a member of the Editorial Staff at Al Quds Newspaper between 1980 and 1992 and was Secretary General of the Arab Studies Society between 1989 and 1994.
Dr. Erakat holds a Ph.D. in Peace Studies from Bradford University in the UK, a MA in International Relations and a BA in Political Science, both from the University of San Francisco. He has authored nine books and has conducted extensive research on foreign policy, oil, conflict resolution and negotiations.

Born in Jaffa, Palestine in 1945. He is married with two children.
Political Career
Mr. Abed Rabbo previously served as the Minister of Culture and Information, a post he held since 1994. Since 1998, he has headed the PA Committee for Education, Culture and Science.
Mr. Abed Rabbo has served on the PLO Executive Committee since 1971 and has served as the head of the PLO Department of Information and Culture since 1974. In 1968, Mr. Abed Rabbo was a founding member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), a leftist group within the PLO. After 23 years in the DFLP, Mr. Abed Rabbo broke away from the group in 1991 to head the Palestinian Democratic Union, FIDA, a group that came to closer agreement with the peace policies of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Mr. Abed Rabbo is a senior member of the Palestinian negotiation team, attending all major negotiations, including those conducted at Camp David (2000) and Taba (2001). In 1988, he led the first Palestinian delegation in negotiations with the US administration.
Mr. Abed Rabbo holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from the American University in Cairo. He enjoys reading literature.

Born in Safad, Palestine in 1938, Dr. Shaath lived in exile and returned to the Gaza Strip in June 1994. He is married with four children.

Political Career

Dr. Shaath previously served as the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, a position he held since 1994. He was elected to the PLC in 1996 representing Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip.

A long-time figure in Palestinian politics, Dr. Shaath served as the Director of the PLO Planning Center in Beirut. In 1974, he headed the PLO’s first delegation to the United Nations. Since 1989, has been a member of the Fatah Central Committee. Today he is in charge of International Relations for Fatah.

Dr. Shaath was a member of the Madrid Peace Delegation and later was involved in negotiations with Israel that led to the signing of the Oslo Agreements. From 1993 to 1995, he served as the head of the Palestinian negotiation team, and participated in later negotiations with Israel, including those conducted at Camp David (2000) and Taba (2001). He has also represented Palestine at the World Economic Forum.


As a public planning and administration consultant, Dr. Shaath worked extensively throughout the Arab world, establishing both the Engineering and Management Institute and the Center for Administrative Development, which offers management training in 14 offices throughout the Arab world.

Dr. Shaath taught economics and business at the American University of Cairo and the American University of Beirut. From 1970 to 1975, he was the Dean of the School of Business Administration at the American University in Beirut.
His interest in education prompted him to found the Dar al-Fata al-Arabi, the only institution in the Arab world dedicated to publishing books for children and young readers.
Dr. Shaath holds a Ph.D. in Law from the University of Pennsylvania, a Ph.D. in Economics and Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, an MBA in Finance and Banking from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Alexandria in Egypt. Dr. Shaath is an avid piano player and enjoys reading poetry.
Born in Ramallah in 1953.

Political Career

Mr. Haniyeh began his political career as an organizer for PLO activities in the West Bank during the 1970s/early 1980s, for which he was placed under house arrest by the Israeli authorities from Aug. 1980 until mid-1981. In 1986, Mr. Haniyeh was deported by Israel to Algeria for “activities on behalf of Fatah.” Once in Tunis, he became an aid to Khalil Al-Wazir, working as the PLO press representative in Tunis, and was considered a link between the ‘outside’ leadership in Tunis and the inside’ leadership in the occupied Palestinian Territory. During the Madrid peace talks, Mr. Haniyeh liaised between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and the media.

Mr. Haniyeh returned to Palestine in 1994 and became a political advisor to Arafat as well as a member of final status talks team. Mr. Haniyeh participated in the July 2000 Camp David talks and eventually wrote a book about his experience, entitled The Camp David Papers, (Ramallah, 2000).


Mr. Haniyeh began his career in journalism working for the Jordanian Ash-Sha‘ab newspaper in Jerusalem from 1976-79, eventually becoming its editor until 1981. Mr. Haniyeh worked for the Public Relations Department at Birzeit University from 1981 until 1984 and served as Chairman of the Arab Journalists’ Union in the occupied Palestinian territory from 1983 until 1985. Upon returning to Palestine from exile in 1994, he established the Al-Ayyam newspaper in Ramallah and has since served as its editor.


Mr. Haniyeh has a BA in English Literature from the University of Cairo. He sits on the Board of Trustees of An-Najah University. Mr. Haniyeh writes political essays and short stories; among his publications is Rites for Another Day, (Arabic, 1986).


Born in Nablus in 1958.

Political Career

In 1993, Dr. Shtayyeh was a member of the Palestinian Delegation to Paris Economic Talks with Israel. In 1995, he was appointed Head of the Palestinian Delegation to the Multilateral Talks on Regional Economic Cooperation Group “REDWG.” In 1996, Dr. Shtayyeh supervised the Palestinian Presidential and Legislative Elections as Secretary General of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC). Dr. Shtayyeh was appointed as Minister of Housing and Public Works in the 9th Palestinian cabinet.


Dr. Shtayyeh is a founding member of the Palestinian Development Fund, as well as the Palestinian Housing Council. Dr. Shtayyeh is also the founder and President of the Palestinian Center for Regional Studies (PCRS), a regional think tank. Dr. Shtayyeh has served as Dean at Bir Zeit University. He established the National Institute of Information Technology and the National Institute for Administration. Dr. Shtayyeh is currently the President of the Board of Trustees of the Arab-American University in Jenin, President of The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) and serves as a Governor of the Islamic Development Bank, representing Palestine.
Dr. Shtayyeh hold a Ph.D. in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies in the University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. He has authored several books and articles.
Born in Bethlehem. He is married and has two sons.
Political Career

Nabil Aburdeneh is known as one of the historic members of Fatah as well as for his close relation with late President Yasser Arafat. He was appointed spokesperson for the Palestinian presidency by President Arafat and has continued his role under the presidency of Mahmoud Abbas.

During his career he has been involved in the peace process as a close adviser to the Palestinian President.
Along with other Palestinian leaders he attended the Cairo University where he studied law.
For more information, please call + 970 (or 2) 2 2963743

Friday, August 27, 2010

In the centre of the Israeli occupied east Jerusalem there is a multi storey building name Beit Yonatan. This building houses the headquarters of a Jewish company called Ateret Cohanim, which helps Jews buy apartments and houses from the Arabs. This is illustrative of the highly religious tensions that permeate the land in and around Jerusalem that was occupied in 1967. Indeed, the Palestinians that sell often have to move city or leave the country because they are considered as traitors.

This is, in a way, part of the problem of settlement. The state is desperately trying to make the area around Beit Yonatan more Jewish, so a community can be started. But they are going about it in the wrong way – paying off the original residents is not legitimate, and there is no wonder that the Palestinians see sellers as traitors. Indeed, the Palestinians that refuse the payoff are staying as a matter of faith and religion, and feel threatened by the emerging Jewish community. However, many Israeli’s argue that Jewish settlers going to live in the heart of Palestinian communities are trouble makers, and retard efforts to bring peace to Jerusalem.

Effectively, this is just another instance which reminds us it is impossible to have peace in Jerusalem when both sides believe it is their birthright, and while companies like Ateret Cohanim continue to subvert the peace process.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The dangers of posting personal photos on Facebook

Photos uploaded onto Facebook by a former IDF solider showing her posing next to detained Palestinians (who were handcuffed and blind folded) have caused outrage.
The soldier, who was recently discharged from the IDF, posted the photos on facebook in an album she called "Army...best time of my life :)."

This episode in yet another political PR disaster for Israel because it supports the view of opponents of the IDF that Israel objectifies Palestinians and have a complete disregard for their humanity, human rights and right for privacy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

“Ya Salam”... a further bridge towards mutual understanding?

At a time when direct peace talks between Israel and Palestinians are back on the table after a 20 month stalemate, an additional initiative is being introduced by Israelis to help foster a spirit of rapprochement between both sides.

Israeli authorities are going to introduce a new scheme to make Arabic language classes compulsory in state schools. It is hoped that the scheme, called Ya Salam, will turn language into a cultural bridge and promote tolerance between Jews and Arabs.