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UN hosts meeting on Israeli-Palestinian conflict at crucial juncture in search for peace

Key international partners seeking Israeli-Palestinian peace began a series of crucial meetings at United Nations Headquarters in New York today at a critical juncture for the process with political progress deadlocked and a humanitarian crisis looming in the occupied Gaza Strip. Foreign ministers of the so-called Diplomatic Quartet – the UN, European Union (EU), Russia and the United States – hosted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, kicked off their day-long consultations with a meeting with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Following the meeting with the regional ministers, the Quartet principals are set to consult among themselves, and then hold a news conference at 5:00 p.m. 

World Bank Report: "Palestinian crisis is worse than expected"

The World Bank circulated a new report on the Palestinian financial crisis. The report says that the crisis is worse than expected and it threatens to provoke a humanitarian crisis and the collapse of the Palestinian Authority. According to the report, 2006 is shaping up to be the worst year in recent times for Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. The report follows the recent cut-off of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. On Tuesday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan will host a high-level meeting on Tuesday of the diplomatic Quartet, the partnership of the United Nations, European Union (EU), Russia and the United States amid a potentially dangerous deterioration looming on the horizon. 

Film Review: Rashid Masharawi's "Waiting"

A young woman stands before a camera refusing to take the chair the director has set up. He asks why? “I have come to sing,” she says. Irritated, the director orders her, “You must act, didn’t they tell you we are looking for actors here?” With calm assertion she insists, “I do not know how to act. I have come to sing. Come on, you film and I will sing…” This scene illustrates a main theme running through Rashid Masharawi’s latest feature film Waiting: Palestinians forced to speak from someone else’s script, writes Electronic Intifada co-founder Ali Abunimah in this review of Masharawi’s latest feature which had its Chicago premiere at the Chicago Palestine Film Festival 2006. 

Book Review: The Case Against Israel

Michael Neumann’s “The Case Against Israel” is “the most comprehensive and devastating critique of Israel in print,” writes EI reviewer Raymond Deane. Yet it will make uncomfortable reading not only for Israel’s apologists but also pro-Palestinian activists. Neumann argues that although “Israel is the illegitimate child of ethnic nationalism,” its existence is “protected by the same useful international conventions that allow others” to retain “their ill-gotten gains.” Seeing that Palestinians have no true options to resist save violence, Neumann nevertheless advocates “the most extensive international sanctions possible”, undeterred “by the horrors of the Jewish past.” 

Israel and the West: New Government, Old Policies

Coming only four weeks after the European declaration of sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, Ehud Olmert’s announcement of a new Israeli Government should raise profound questions in any Western country truly interested in a ‘balanced’ approach towards the Middle East. Olmert’s government does contain many politicians responsible for the last five years of terror and impoverishment on the West Bank, who fall foul of the conditions the Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia) has seen fit to place on the Palestinians. 

Audio Interview: From Montreal to Ein el-Hilweh

Listen to an interview with Ahmed Abdel Majeed, a stateless Palestinian born and raised in Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, who was deported from Montreal Canada in November 2003. In Montreal Ahmed was an active member of the Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, a group of Palestinians in Montreal organizing against deportation by Canadian immigration authorities. 

Palestine: Making a Bad Situation Worse

With Hamas in control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government, and Western donors are halting all direct aid to it, an already precarious humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza could potentially turn worse. Virtually bankrupt, the PA needs $120 million a month to pay its staff, and an additional $40 million for continued minimum basic services to its constituency. With Israel suspending the transfer of $60 million a month in Palestinian customs receipts, the $35 million the PA collects each month in domestic revenues are not enough to keep it afloat. 

Audio Documentary - Burj el-Shemali Refugee Camp

Listen to a radio documentary on Burj el-Shemali refugee camp, located on the outskirts of the southern Lebanese city of Tyre & home to upwards of 20 000 Palestinian refugees. Recorded in Burj el-Shemali during the summer of 2005, this documentary focuses on the present day political, economic and social situation facing the Palestinian residents of the camp, within the context of ongoing major political changes taking place in Lebanon. 

Aid agencies: Suspension of aid is accelerating slide into crisis

The Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) cautioned donor governments and Israel that the strategy of starving out the newly elected Hamas government by rerouting aid to outside agencies is deepening the suffering of civilians. Thirty-six aid agencies operational in the occupied Palestinian territories said the suspension of direct aid to the Palestinian Authority — a move initiated by Canada, the US and EU — is accelerating a slide into crisis. The sanctions have left unpaid for a second month the entire Palestinian public sector, comprising 150,000 police, doctors, teachers and other public service workers. Aid agencies the situation is most acute in the Gaza Strip. 

Annan to host Quartet meeting on Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will host a high-level meeting on Tuesday of the diplomatic Quartet, the partnership of the United Nations, European Union (EU), Russia and the United States that is seeking to bring a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict amid a potentially dangerous deterioration looming on the horizon. The meeting at UN Headquarters in New York is being held at the principals’ level and is expected to be attended by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with the EU represented by its High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik of Austria, as well as Benita Ferrero Waldner.