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UPA: Direct humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people

Palestine is reeling from high unemployment and a poverty rate of 48%, with half its people surviving on food aid. With an increasingly deteriorating situation on the ground, severe food shortages in Gaza, and talk of suspending aid to the Palestinian people, the Electronic Intifada asked Makboula Yasin, Executive Director of the United Palestinian Appeal, Inc., in Washington, D.C., what people can do in terms of getting direct humanitarian assistance to the people who need it most. 

Intransigence of Hamas Government will affect aid: Quartet

The refusal of the Hamas-led Palestinian Government to commit to non-violence, recognition of Israel and other principles will inevitably have an effect on direct assistance to it, the Middle East diplomatic Quartet made up of the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia said today. “The Quartet welcomed President Abbas’ call for the new Palestinian Government to commit to a platform of peace and, having carefully assessed the program of the new government approved on March 28, noted with grave concern that the new Government has not committed to the principles” spelled out by the Quartet in a pronouncement made soon after the January elections, the group said in a formal statement. 

Gaza Strip Situation Report

Karni and Kerem Shalom crossings have been open for nearly one week (21 - 27 March), although not at full capacity, allowing much needed basic food supplies to enter the Gaza Strip. Karni closed on 28 March because of heightened Israeli security concerns over the Knesset elections. Over the course of the last week, over 1,650 truckloads of food and commercial supplies entered the Gaza Strip through Karni crossing from Israel. Exported goods from the Gaza Strip were permitted on 26 March for the first time since 12 March. On 28 March, two Israeli Bedouins were killed in the nearby village of Nahal Oz when they reportedly handled an unexploded qassam rocket previously fired by Palestinian militants. 

The New York Times Covers Up Discrimination against Palestinian Citizens of Israel

March 28th’s Israeli elections saw the sudden rise of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party to become the fourth largest Israeli party, advocating transferring some Palestinian towns in Israel to PA control, thus revoking the Israeli citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.  The results of a poll released last week showed that 68% of Israeli Jews would refuse to live in the same apartment building as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, and 40% of Israeli Jews believe the state needs to support the emigration of Palestinian citizens. However, because of the way Israel is portrayed in the mainstream US media, such blatant discrimination would likely surprise the US public. 

Asking Hamas for the moon: Severing ties illustrates flawed policy

Canada and the US are the first governments that have severed all ties with the Palestinian Authority. The US administration and Canada accordingly want Hamas to denounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous agreements, including the Road Map. EI’s Arjan El Fassed argues that this move shows how inconsistent foreign policy is towards Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These governments have failed to denounce violence on the part of Israel, have not recognized Palestine themselves and have failed to ensure Israel’s for signed agreements. This latest move has formally exposed the bias of the Quartet. 

Update: The Implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access

Rafah was open daily during the reporting period for the standard nine hours. On 14 March four truckloads of furniture and handicrafts were exported via Rafah to Egypt, using the back-to-back system under the supervision of the EU BAM. No other truck loads have crossed since. No security incident on the Palestinian side of the crossing was reported. However, on 14 March, the EU BAM closed Rafah 75 minutes earlier than scheduled. The decision was taken jointly with the Palestinian border officials in reaction to the tense situation in the Gaza Strip due to the events in Jericho. The passages did not open continuously. Karni was open for limited imports on four days only. Exports were allowed on two days. 

Section of separation barrier around Jerusalem ruled illegal - near Sheikh Sa'ed

The Tel-Aviv Magistrate’s Court granted the appeal of residents of Sheikh sa’ed, in East Jerusalem , opposing the separation barrier, and cancelled the requisition orders that had been issued to build the barrier. The court’s appeals committee ruled that the planned route of the barrier would cause disproportionate harm to the daily lives of the residents, in part because it separates Sheik sa’ed from other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem . This is the first time that a court has voided a section of the separation barrier around Jerusalem . The appeal was filed by the Sheikh sa’ed Neighborhood Committee and five residents of the village, who were represented by attorney Ghiath Nasser. 

Wall mitigation: Implications for donors and implementing agencies operating in areas affected by the Separation Barrier

Perspectives within the international donor community on how to approach wall mitigation and address the implications of the ICJ Opinion are far from consistent. Some donors are strongly in favour of wall mitigation on humanitarian grounds, while others express serious concern regarding undertaking any form of wall mitigation initiative on political or legal grounds. Many donors, meanwhile, have not formulated a clear position. A new paper outlines recommendations that deal with how to approach wall mitigation in an effective and consistent manner and which is legally consistent with the ICJ Opinion; and the need for donors to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law. 

The Israeli election and the prospects for peace

Palestinians remain pessimistic that any newly elected government of Israel will increase prospects for peace. The Palestinians held their own election in January, and they voted in the Hamas party. Now observers are concerned that if Kadima, the party originally dreamed up by Ariel Sharon, is voted in, prospects for peace and a viable state will be set back, because of its policy of unilateral disengagement. Ali Abunimah is the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, an online news site that tells the story from the Palestinian perspective. He gave his response to Kadima policy of unilateral disengagement in an interview with Erica Vowles of The Wire. 

Fatah Chapter Closed: Creating a Palestinian National Congress

The current calls to emphasise the role of the PLO coming from Fatah and the other political factions cannot be very convincing to the Palestinian people. Fatah bears the bulk of responsibility in destroying the PLO and marginalizing it. Whichever the motives, Fatah and all Palestinians must recognise that trying to revive the PLO as it stands is not the answer. The structure and methodology is outdated. There is no other way but to build up a different political body to represent the Palestinians everywhere, writes Rifat Odeh Kassis.