All Content

UNRWA Commissioner General calls for action to ease plight of Palestine refugees

Commissioner General of UNRWA Karen Koning AbuZayd has called for action to ease the plight of Palestine refugees. Speaking to delegates participating in UNRWA’s Advisory Commission meeting, which opened in Amman this morning, Ms. AbuZayd appealed to concerned actors to address the causes of conflict. “The political front is where we need your leadership”, the Commissioner General told the meeting. “I see my role as one of informing political leaders of the facts on the ground and of encouraging action that will ease the plight of the refugees”, said AbuZayd, expressing hope that a unity government in Palestine will become a reality, thus paving the way for revitalizing the peace process. 

Australian journalist's new book takes heat for posing "My Israel Question"

Sydney-based journalist and author Antony Loewenstein is used to controversy. On many occasions he has told of how his critical assessment of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a Jew has left him a pariah in family and social circles. This is unlikely to change anytime soon given that he spent the last couple of years penning the newly released My Israel Question, a self-critical consideration of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in a particularly Australian context. Loewenstein comes from “a liberal Jewish family” with parents he describes as once having been “unthinking Zionists”, who he later realised were simply uninformed because of their reliance on Jewish and mainstream press for their understanding of the conflict. 

Act of Vengeance: Israel's Bombing of the Gaza Power Plant and its Effects

Undoubtedly, the State of Israel has the right to protect the lives of its citizens from threat, including, the threat posed by Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. However, not all means of response and action are permissible. Aiming attacks at civilian objects is forbidden under International Humanitarian Law and is considered a war crime. The power plant bombed by Israel is a purely civilian object and bombing it did nothing to impede the ability of Palestinian organizations to fire rockets into Israeli territory. 

Israel could complete Lebanese withdrawal by Saturday - UN Force Commander

The commander of United Nations peacekeepers in Lebanon held talks with senior Lebanese and Israeli military officers today with a view to completing by Saturday Israel’s withdrawal from all the positions it occupied in its northern neighbour during last month’s fighting with Hizbollah. “We had a constructive meeting today,” UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) Commander Major-General Alain Pellegrini said after the talks, which discussed both Israel’s withdrawal and the deployment of the Lebanese army in the area. “It is my belief that with the necessary cooperation by both parties we should see the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) leave South Lebanon by the end of this month,” he added. 

Southerners live in fear of one million cluster bombs

Unexploded ordnance in southern Lebanon continue to pose great risks to civilians returning to their villages, according to the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC). It estimates that there are at least one million unexploded cluster bomblets in the area. “The latest estimate includes the number of rocket and artillery cluster bomblets,” said Dalya Farran, UNMACC media and post-clearance officer, adding that cluster bombshells dropped from Israeli aircraft had yet to be counted. Cluster bombs or bomblets are one of the more common forms of unexploded ordnance, or UXOs. 

Water and hygiene aid helps Lebanese families cope in war's aftermath

EL KHIAM - This southern Lebanese border town was severely damaged during the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. No building was left untouched. More than 70 per cent of El Khiam’s houses and three of its five schools were destroyed. Only one of the town’s four health centres is functioning, and to make matters worse, water sources and water treatment plants were also damaged during the hostilities. It could be a long time before they are repaired, and in the meantime there is no running water. 

Washington out of touch with anger of Arab world, Syrian minister tells UN

United States officials are interpreting the actions of the people of the Middle East in a distorted manner in a bid to justify their policies to the detriment of all concerned, the Foreign Minister of Syria told the General Assembly today. “Tragically, we all end up paying the price when the decision-makers in Washington believe that they know better, and are in a better position to understand and grasp the needs and circumstances of the Arabs,” said Walid Al-Moualem. “They diagnose the ambitions and aspirations of the Arab individual in a manner that is tailored to their own vision.” 

UN human rights expert reports on 'appalling' conditions for ordinary Palestinians

Describing a ‘tragic’ human rights situation for ordinary Palestinians living in the occupied territory, an independent United Nations expert today presented his report to the newly established Human Rights Council, sparking criticism from the Israeli representative that the work was one-sided and imbalanced. John Dugard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, said that he wished to speak only about Israeli actions against ordinary, non-militant, non-activist Palestinians who simply wanted to lead a good life, educate their children and enjoy the basic amenities of life. 

Seeing the forest for the trees

The Quartet (along with the international community generally) has failed to enable the Palestinian president to act credibly towards the goal of making “progress towards a two-state solution through dialogue and parallel implementation of obligations.”Anyone following the news from the occupied Palestinian territory would think that it is the Hamas-led government that is preventing the Palestinian president from achieving “credible” progress towards a two-state solution. In the present charged political divisions among Palestinians, even a large percentage of the economically deprived and hounded population is being persuaded to clutch at this straw. 

Human Rights Watch still denying Lebanon the right to defend itself

In a recent article on this site criticising Human Rights Watch for singling out Hizbullah rather than Israel for harsher condemnation of its military actions during the Lebanon war, I made sure to quote the organisation fairly and accurately before seeking to refute its arguments. Unfortunately, in a response published on Counterpunch, HRW’s Middle East policy director, Sarah Leah Whitson, did not return the favour. Possibly realising that her case was weak, she decided to paraphrase my argument instead, misrepresenting it, and only then try to rebut it.